Single cells are the building blocks for all biological systems; yet they are inherently complex with intricate networks of dynamic biomolecular assemblies made up of proteins, coenzymes, ligands, DNA, RNA and lipids. In addition, these molecular assemblies are dynamically changing their sizes, conformations and intermolecular interactions in response to specific chemical, environmental or biological cues.
In Heikal laboratory, we are using a multiparametric fluorescence approach to investigate biomolecular events in living cells/tissues under different pathophysiological conditions. This noninvasive and quantitative approach complements traditional biochemical techniques on purified biomolecules from cell lysates.
Our interdisciplinary research interests include (but not limited to) the following topics:
- Energy metabolism and mitochondrial anomalies
- Biomimetic membranes
- Immunoglobulin E Receptor Signaling
- Protein dynamics and protein-protein interactions
- Single molecule studies
- Molecular crowding
- Development of micro-spectroscopic and analytical techniques
Students in Heikal laboratory are trained on a number of analytical, physical, and biochemical methods that include cell culture, model membrane assemblies, molecular dynamics, optical microscopy and ultrafast laser spectroscopy. Different aspects of scientific research (e.g., experimental design, data and image analysis, critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills) are also emphasized. The students also gain an appreciation of interdisciplinary research at the interface of traditional disciplines.