Chemical Biology, Pharmacology, Enzymology, Spectroscopy and PET Imaging
Research in the Tonge laboratory focuses on three major areas: (i) inhibitor discovery and the mechanism of drug action, (ii) photoreceptor biophysics and biology, and (iii) PET imaging. We design and synthesize inhibitors of enzyme drug targets involved in diseases such as cancer and infection, and use techniques such as PK/PD modeling, mass spectrometry and positron emission tomography (PET) to explore the role of drug-target binding kinetics in drug activity at the cellular and whole organism level. We also use biophysical methods such as ultrafast spectroscopy coupled with site-specific protein modification to understand the mechanism of photoreceptor activation as a prelude to the development of optogenetic devices. In addition to exploring the role of drug action using PET imaging, we also develop radiotracers to detect and localize sites of bacterial infection in humans.