Chenxiang Lin receives Smith Family Foundation Odyssey Award

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Congratulations to Dr. Chenxiang Lin, Associate Professor of Cell Biology, who has received a Smith Family Foundation Odyssey Award for his project “Tension-loaded DNA Nanodevices for Structural Determination of Mechanosensitive Proteins.”

From his lab at the Yale Nanobiology Institute, Lin’s project seeks to understand the biochemical signal network that senses, modulates, and reacts to the strength and direction of mechanical forces at play inside our blood vessel and heart muscle cells.

Existing research tools either measure the force applied to a protein or reveal its structure, but not both simultaneously.

The Lin lab aim to develop a versatile nanodevice, with rigid, plier-like arms, to apply controlled forces to signal proteins in a cell-free environment, incorporating sensors into the device to measure the tension across each protein of interest.

Explaining these fundamental cellular mechanisms will help to inspire novel therapeutic interventions for diseases such as arteriosclerosis and cancer.

Lin has been a faculty member at the West Campus Nanobiology Institute since 2012. The Institute focuses on the discovery of principles that unite living and synthetic materials at the nanoscale - usually measured in nanometers, equal to one billionth of a meter. Researchers explore synthetic cellular nano-machines as a means to mimic complex biological assemblies.

Lin’s research manipulates DNA like a building material, creating scaffolds and hoops that are found nowhere in nature but that make possible a new realm of cell biology experiments.

The Smith Family Foundation Odyssey Award, a program of the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, was created in 2017 to fuel creativity and innovation in junior investigators in the basic sciences. The Award supports the pursuit of high impact ideas to generate breakthroughs and drive new directions in biomedical research. The awards fund high-risk, high-reward pilot projects solicited from the brightest junior faculty in the region.