Janice Robertson, PhD

Portrait
Assistant Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Contact Information

Lab
5-611 BSB
51 Newton Road
Iowa City, IA 52242
319-335-7869

Primary Office
5-612 BSB
51 Newton Road
Iowa City, IA 52242
319-335-7844

Fax
319-335-7330

Education

BSc, Theoretical Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
PhD, Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, New York, NY
Postdoctoral Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Research Summary

Our research focuses on studying how the physical forces of nature drive a simple string of amino acids into a stable, conformationally defined protein - in the membrane. For soluble proteins, the burial of hydrophobic groups away from aqueous interfaces is a major driving force, but membrane-embedded proteins cannot experience hydrophobic forces, as the lipid bilayer lacks water. A fundamental conundrum thus arises: how does a greasy protein surface find its greasy protein partner in the greasy lipid bilayer to fold faithfully into its native structure? In our lab, we measure the energetics of membrane protein assembly, in actual membranes, using the homodimeric Cl-/H+ antiporter CLC- ec1 as a model system. We approach this curious question with a variety of experimental techniques including membrane protein purification and functional reconstitution, electrophysiology, x-ray crystallography and single-molecule resolution microscopy.