Looking Forward to improved methods for probing enzyme activity


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Prof. Daniella Goldfarb

Prof. Daniella Goldfarb: "My dream is to develop EPR methods that can reveal enzymatic activities occurring in short (millisecond) time scales and use them to produce a 'movie' that shows the changes taking place both in the enzyme's active core and in the entire enzyme as it takes part in the reaction."


Molecular Magnetism

Science, like many things in life, progresses in cycles, the latest technology of one stage becoming a springboard for new discoveries and inventions in the next. This has been the experience of Prof. Daniella Goldfarb of the Institute's Chemical Physics Department in over 20 years of research into the behavior of paramagnetic materials. Beginning in the late 1980s, Goldfarb has developed measurement methods and constructed a series of spectrometers based on electro-paramagnetic resonance (EPR), each new design improving on the previous ones. For example, a method she developed to reduce background noise has been introduced in commercial spectrometers and is now used in labs around the world.

Among her research subjects are metallo-enzymes – biological molecules with para-magnetic metals in their central active sites that enable them to carry out their various tasks in the body. With EPR, Goldfarb can perceive molecules and even atoms, giving her the opportunity to investigate biology on the atomic level and often revealing details that can't be seen with any other method. She also teamed up with Prof. Yechiel Shai of the Institute's Biological Chemistry Department to look into the activities of certain natural antibiotics – proteins that penetrate the cell walls of bacteria and destroy them. The scientists succeeded in forming a detailed picture of the interactions between the antibiotic protein and the bacterial cell wall as this penetration takes place. This research may lead to new antibiotics that could help circumvent antibiotic resistance.

Prof. Daniella Goldfarb's research is supported by the Carolito Stiftung; and the estate of Lela London. Prof. Goldfarb is the incumbent of the Erich Klieger Professorial Chair in Chemical Physics.