• Name: Jesse Jones, Ph.D.
  • Institution: Idaho State University
  • Department: Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Phone: 208-521-5491
  • Email: jessejones@isu.edu

Summary: My research interests revolve around the development of targeted therapeutics and include an interdisciplinary approach spanning biological chemistry, drug discovery, molecular pharmaceutics, and synthetic biology. My current focus employs a multi-faceted approach comprised of classical drug discovery efforts that include the characterization and validation of specific enzyme- and structural-protein targets for the development of selective antimicrobials; as well as more advanced synthetic biology efforts including discovery, characterization, and advanced engineering of protein nanocages for the development of targeted drug and therapeutic prodrug nanoreactor delivery platforms.

Minimum Classes: N/A

1. Biomedical engineering and synthetic biology: development of therapeutic prodrug nanoreactors and drug delivery platforms. This project relies on the tractable nature of protein nanocages and assemblies, as well as the selective nature of protein-protein interactions (such as antibodies and antibody mimetics) that allow for targeted delivery of therapeutic proteins. This project includes implementing cutting-edge cloning and molecular biology techniques, such as optimized protein-protein interactions, “molecular superglues,” and “click-chemistry,” to rationally manipulate tractable microbial protein nanocage scaffolds such as bacterial encapsulins and viral capsids. This includes internal engineering for rational drug, enzyme, and gene cargo loading, as well as external engineering for anti-immunogenic and targeting moieties to develop sophisticated therapeutic payloads capable of focused delivery to specific proteins, cells, and organs of interest.

2. Classic drug discovery: selective enzyme and structural protein drug target characterization, validation, and development. This project hinges on the fact that certain enzymes, isozymes, and structural proteins are uniquely essential to certain pathogenic microbes—but not to commensal or beneficial microbes—and therefore represent promising targets for eliciting selective antimicrobial effects against only the targeted pathogens of interest. This project includes classic cloning, bioinformatics, protein biochemistry, assay development, drug screening (high throughput and in silico), and structural biology techniques. Techniques learned and applied are likely to include bioinformatics, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC), plate reader absorbance- and fluorescence-based high-throughput screening (HTS), in silico computational chemistry, in silico automated protein structure prediction, negative-stain transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and more.

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