The Kemp lab is focused on understanding how metabolism influences the decisions that cells make. Aging, stem cell differentiation, cancer metastasis, and inflammation rely on progressive changes in metabolism resulting in increased levels of reactive oxygen species. Collectively, the accumulation of these molecules is known as cellular oxidation, and pathological levels are referred to as oxidative stress. Our lab develops systems biology tools for investigating how cellular oxidation influences cellular fate and interpretation of cues from the extracellular environment. We are interested in the collective behavior that arises during stem cell differentiation, immune cell responses, or drug treatments from metabolic diversity in individual cells. Because of the numerous biochemical reactions involved, we develop computational models and analytical approaches to understand how complex protein network properties are influenced by redox-sensitive proteins; these proteins typically have reactive thiol groups that are post-translationally regulated in the presence of reactive oxygen species to alter activity and/or function. Experimentally, we develop novel high-throughput single cell techniques for the detection and quantification of intracellular oxidation.
Both the graduate and undergraduate programs in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering were nationally ranked no. 1 in 2023. It was a first-time top ranking for the grad program. Dedicated faculty and innovative curriculum earned the department its lofty spot and will be what keeps it there in the future.