Proteins are responsible for all of the molecular processes that are essential for life on Earth. Our overarching goal is to understand the design principles that enable proteins to function exquisitely, for instance in neutralising viruses or breaking down toxic compounds. Proteins are the most complex molecules we know, however, and the binding domain of an antibody or the active site of an enzyme typically comprises more than 200 amino acids that form an intricate three-dimensional structure.
Our work combines computational methods development and structural and biochemical wet-lab work. We probe our understanding of protein design principles by computing new proteins and testing their activities in the lab. Our algorithms have enabled others and us to design therapeutic enzymes, binding proteins, vaccines, and enzymes for green chemistry, but we have much more to learn in order to gain complete control over protein activity. We are certain that protein design will lead to the next wave of discovery in basic and applied biomolecular research.