The Shoulders Group is interested in (1) understanding how cells fold proteins and (2) using the tools of evolution to understand proteostasis and develop next-generation biomolecules. In the area of cellular protein folding, they study how protein misfolding and aggregation leads to diseases of the extracellular matrix (especially collagenopathies), and seek new treatments for these disorders. They also study how chaperones and quality control mechanisms impact the mutational space accessible to client proteins, particularly oncogenes and rapidly evolving RNA viruses — beyond fundamental interest, this research could lead to new types of treatments for cancer and viral infections. In biotechnology-oriented work, they invent new and efficient in vivo directed evolution strategies that they use to create valuable biotechnologies. Applications in this area range from new types of genome targeting agents to improving enzymes involved in biological carbon capture that can help to address climate change and support resilient agriculture.
The Shoulders Laboratory (1) studies how cells fold proteins and (2) develops and applies next-generation protein engineering and directed evolution techniques to address biotechnology challenges.