Rhodes Chemistry Professor Receives Grant for Research Focusing on Computational Models of Proteins

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Publication Date: 5/8/2007


Photo caption: (left to right, front) Meghan Hofto, Jessica Cross and (back) Dr. Mauricio Cafiero, Alex Woods, Karina van Sickle, and Lori Culberson.

Dr. Mauricio Cafiero, assistant professor of chemistry at Rhodes College, has received a $48,914 grant to support his research into computational models of proteins. The grant is from Research Corporation, a private operating foundation for the advancement of science, and will provide funding for two years.

“The research is important because our models hope to provide molecular level explanations of diseases such as Phenylketanuria, Parkinson’s disease, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We also use our models to predict DNA mutations which might cause these diseases,” says Cafiero. “We will buy a new computing cluster for students to run our models.”

The work that led to this funding was conducted by Rhodes students mentored by Cafiero. They are Laura Hofto ’10, Meghan Hofto ’07, Karina Van Sickle ’08, Jessica Cross ’08 and Lori Culberson ’08.

Students in Cafiero’s physical chemistry class run calculations related to their lab experiments. His general chemistry class does modeling to determine, for example, why acetaminophen is better than aspirin for people who are prone to heartburn.

“They’re able to look at the molecules, calculate some of their properties and see that aspirin is more acidic than acetaminophen,” Cafiero explains.

Cafiero holds a Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry, M.A. degree in chemistry from the University of Arizona and B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of North Florida.

Those with specific inquiries about research by Dr. Mauricio Cafiero may contact him at cafierom@rhodes.edu .