Lukasz Joachimiak, PhD
Dr. Joachimiak is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center where he is a Marie Effie Cain Endowed Scholar in Medical Research. He received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a Hilldale Fellow working in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Craig studying yeast molecular chaperones. He received his PhD from the University of Washington where he worked with Dr. David Baker to develop computational methods to design protein-protein interactions. These efforts yielded the first experimentally validated examples of computationally engineered highly selective protein complexes, designed protein interface hydrogen bonding networks and de novo designed protein complexes. He did his postdoctoral work at Stanford University with Dr. Judith Frydman, there he implemented computational and structural approaches to define architectures and mechanics of large and dynamic complexes. He identified an evolutionarily conserved topological arrangement for the hetero-oligomeric essential protein folding machine and explained how this macromolecular chaperone limits aggregation of many proteins including the amyloidogenic huntingtin and alpha-synuclein proteins. His work at Stanford was supported by a Ruth Kirschstein postdoctoral award. He joined the faculty at UT Southwestern in 2016 as an Effie Marie Cain Endowed Scholar in Medical Research. His lab develops computational and structural approaches to probe the conformations of proteins and complexes. His current interests are focused on understanding the evolutionary principles that modulate local protein conformations that mitigate protein aggregation. In particular, he is interested in incipient changes in the tau protein conformation that drive pathogenicity and how cellular factors including molecular chaperones or post-translational modifications mediate this process. In collaboration with Dr. Diamond at UT Southwestern he is using knowledge of tau conformations to design antibodies against pathogenic conformations of tau. Dr. Joachimiak has a secondary appointment in the Department of Biochemistry and is affiliated with the Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program at UT Southwestern.