Lab: Krishna Sharma lab
Undergraduate Work: I pursued my Bachelor's in Biotechnology in Mumbai, India, after which I did my Master's in Biotechnology from Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla.
Hometown: Mumbai, India
Research: Dr. Sharma’s lab aims at understanding the biochemistry associated with the development of cataract. The lens of the eye is composed of highly stable, long-lived proteins called crystallins, which account for approximately 95% of the total lens proteins. Crystallins belong to the family of small heat shock proteins (sHSP) and serve as molecular chaperones that function to retain the transparency and refractive properties of the lens. The formation and progression of cataract has been associated with extensive modification, aggregation and precipitation of lens crystallins.
Also, Dr. Sharma’s lab has chemically synthesized two peptides, called mini-alpha A-crystallin and mini-alpha B-crystallin, and have shown that these peptides possess the anti-aggregation properties of molecular chaperones. The availability of mini-alpha A and mini-alpha B thus provides an opportunity to investigate the structural requirements of the chaperone site as well as the conformational specificity (structure or shape) of target proteins during chaperone action. These peptide chaperones are currently being investigated for their ability to stabilize mutant crystallins and denaturing proteins, which otherwise aggregate and precipitate. These studies may lead to the development of peptide chaperones as therapeutic agents.
Techniques: Protein expression and purification, column chromatography, cell-based assays, kinetic assays, light scattering, circular dichroism, and cryo electron microscopy.
Why Mizzou: I really liked the overall environment when I came here for my interview. The Biochemistry Department has attractive research venues that made Mizzou the obvious choice.
Favorite Part of Mizzou Biochemistry: The department is very much active to maintain a healthy relationship between the faculty and the students. The Biochemistry Graduate Student Organization (BGSO) is very much active in assisting newer students, both in academia or whether it is acclimatizing to Columbia.
Organizations: BGSO, the Honorary society of Phi Kappa Phi (from my time at Florida Tech).
Fun Fact about Ashutosh: I am a big fan of Japanese calligraphy, cartoons (from Hanna Barbera to Japanese anime) and pro wrestling!
Favorite Thing about Columbia: The town has a bit of everything for everyone I like it because you can transition from the downtown to the calm countryside in a matter of minutes.
Outside the Lab: I like to read occasionally, hang out with friends and play my guitar.Career Plans: I look forward to pursuing a career in the life science industry.