We are a single molecule biophysics lab. We believe there is no better way to understand how biological processes happen than by looking directly at them. We are mainly concerned with how DNA—the molecule that carries the information necessary to build and operate an organism—imparts its instructions to the cell, turning molecular information into cellular reality.
We do this through a powerful single molecule platform that allows us to directly visualize thousands of individual biological reactions in real time. This technique, DNA curtains, organizes single DNA molecules into large arrays that we can see with fluorescence microscopy.
The bones of a DNA curtain are a set of nanofabricated metal barriers deposited onto the surface of a microscope slide. These barriers corral the DNA into regular rows. Downstream from the barriers are another set of metal features (pedestals) that allow us to capture the opposite end of the DNA as well. The result is thousands of extended single molecules of DNA held a tenth of a micron from the surface of the slide, all in the same orientation.
We can then introduce flourescently labeled molecules (such as Cas9 from streptococcus pyogenes in the above image) and watch all of the interactions as these molecules carry out their biology. This gives us a direct way to develop a precise mechanistic understanding of how a protein, or any other biological agent, works.