Dr. Levi Ekanger
B.S. Northern Michigan University
Ph.D. Wayne State University
Postdoctoral California Institute of Technology
Dr. Ekanger’s research interests are in the field of bioinorganic chemistry, where chemists are interested in the role of metals in biological processes. A primary aim of the laboratory is understanding the coordination chemistries enabling Fe and S transfer between proteins in the process of iron-suflur cluster repair. Iron–sulfur clusters are inorganic cofactors with important biological roles. The importance of iron–sulfur clusters is evidenced by their highly conserved nature in diverse processes spanning photosynthesis to gene regulation. Iron–sulfur clusters can be degraded and repaired within a protein, and the repair of iron–sulfur clusters contributes to the virulence of pathogenic bacteria. If we can uncover the coordination chemistry principles driving iron–sulfur cluster repair, we will understand how to target iron–sulfur cluster repair in bacteria to decrease virulence. We will take inspiration from Nature to design and synthesize a series of diiron complexes that mimic the active sites of proteins capable of repairing iron-sulfur clusters. We will also isolate iron-sulfur cluster metalloproteins from biological sources to test hypotheses related to iron-sulfur cluster degradation and repair in metalloproteins.
Students in the Ekanger laboratory learn a variety of skills and techniques including the synthesis and characterization of biomimetic Fe complexes, purification and characterization of iron-sulfur cluster metalloproteins, various spectroscopies, mass spectrometry, X-Ray crystallography, and any available technique enabling us to test our hypotheses.
Dr. Ekanger’s teaching interests include general chemistry, analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and special topics offerings including metals in medicine and biology.