If cells were computers, DNA would be hardware and proteins would be software. The human genome encodes tens of thousands of proteins, and these are the movers and shakers of life: some are enzymes that drive chemical reactions, some are building blocks that form cellular architecture, and others are messengers that relay signals within and between cells.
In a healthy cell, the complex protein network functions in exquisite balance, but in a diseased state, the balance is disrupted. Because aberrant protein function is at that root of most diseases, understanding and manipulating natural proteins has become a major goal for therapeutic research.
The Sidhu Lab interests lie in the field of protein engineering and technologies that explore and shape protein structure and function. The lab uses in vitro evolution to recreate Darwinian selections inside a test tube. We investigate the function of natural proteins and design changes to improve function and reverse the effects of disease.
Going further, we can also construct synthetic proteins designed to target proteins inside cells, in much the same way as the immune system produces antibodies to target infectious invaders.
With these technologies, we aim to better understand the molecular basis of cellular function and to use this knowledge to develop therapies for cancer, diabetes and other diseases.
The collaborative environment of the Donnelly Centre is ideal for our research. We are working closely with the Boone, Andrews, Stagljar, Shoichet and Moffat labs to tackle formidable challenges that would be impossible for any single research group. In one building, we have world-class talent that spans the most cutting-edge areas of life science research. The members of the Donnelly Centre were selected for their individual talents and for the ability to collaborate, and this is a crucial combination that enables interdisciplinary research that would be difficult to imagine anywhere else.