Giulia Palermo Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering

The Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) featured assistant professor of bioengineering Giulia Palermo’s research in its 2018 Young Investigators Virtual Issue released in July. Her publication, “Protospacer adjacent motif-induced allostery activates CRISPR-Cas9,” was selected as one of 26 publications featured on the list that compiles research on areas of current scientific interest.

“This is a beautiful molecular dynamics study of how CRISPR-Cas9, the revolutionary new genome editing technology, is allosterically activated by a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM). Palermo’s group shows that upon binding of PAM, a series of conformational changes are triggered, activating the Cas9 catalytic domains responsible for concerted cleavage of the two DNA strands. . . the study highlights the utility of theoretical studies in providing deep mechanistic insights that are simply not accessible experimentally,” said Michelle Coote, associate editor for JACS.

Palermo joined the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering’s bioengineering department in July 2018. As a computational biophysicist, her expertise lies in molecular simulations. In her role, she interfaces computational biophysics with structural biology, chemistry and biochemistry to clarify the mechanistic action of biological systems of key importance, emerging genome editing technologies and directed evolution strategies. Her current research focuses on nucleosome dynamics and chromatin drug development, dissecting the mechanistic bases of non-coding RNA, and catalytic metals and enzymatic processing of DNA and RNA.  Palermo earned her Ph.D. in 2013 from the Italian Institute of Technology.

JACS, founded in 1879, is the flagship journal of the American Chemical Society and the world’s preeminent journal in all chemistry and interfacing areas of science.  The Young Investigators Virtual Issue highlights premier research in diverse topical areas from around the world that is of broad interest to the contemporary readership of JACS. The selected publications were chosen by JACS editors on the basis of reviewer input and editorial evaluation.

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