The Maher lab studies the nucleic acids, DNA and RNA. We wish to understand how the locally stiff DNA molecule is bent and looped by proteins, and how this bending is involved in the control of gene expression. These studies involve bacterial, yeast, and mammalian proteins, as well as artificial proteins engineered to test basic principles.

The lab also studies how unnatural DNA and RNA molecules can be selected from random libraries for the ability to tightly bind and inhibit proteins in living cells. This work seeks to develop new approaches to artificial gene regulation in cancer and inflammatory diseases. Example applications include the inhibition of specific transcription factors, and the stimulation of remyelination in diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Additional projects relate to understanding the biochemistry of cancers like paraganglioma and glioblastoma where aberrant metabolism may play a key role in tumor growth and therapy.

Research interests

  • Understanding DNA bending and looping by proteins
  • Exploring small folded RNAs and DNAs as artificial tools for regenerative medicine and gene regulation
  • Understanding the biochemistry of metabolite imbalance in cancer