User:Mauricio Rodriguez Rodriguez

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Dr. Mauricio Rodriguez Rodriguez
Dr. Mauricio Rodriguez Rodriguez

Air Force Research Laboratory

Cellular Dynamics & Engineering Program, AFRL/RHPB

2729 R Street, Bldg. 837 Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433-5707

Wright State University

Physics Department - WSU

3640 Colonel Glenn Highway Dayton, OH 45435

(Mauricio.Rodriguez at wright.edu)

(Personal Homepage)

Texas A&M University

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics

2128 TAMU College Station, TX 77845-2128

(maurod at tamu.edu)


Biography

Colombian scientist with academic training and research experience in biochemistry, mathematical modeling, bioinformatics, genetics, molecular biology and microbiology. Proponent of dialogue around the societal, economic and ethical implications of science and technology advancement. Experience in biotechnological research and management in Latin America, Europe and the United States of America. Scientific and managing consultant for energy projects in the U.S. and Latin America. Increasing involvement in public service and administration with emphasis in science and technology policy for developing countries. Avid supporter of science education for young people in secondary schools and universities.

Education

Postdoctoral, Cellular Dynamics & Engineering Air Force Research Laboratory, USA, 2005-2008 Advisor: Dr. Morley Stone

Ph.D., Department of Biochemistry, Texas A&M University, USA, 2005 Advisor: Dr. James Wild

B.S., Department of Bacteriology, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia, 1995

Reseach Interests

From a systems biology perspective, the contribution of the mechanisms controlling metabolism on a quantitative level. Within synthetic biology, the design, simulation and construction of artificial cell-like devices to be used as an enabling technology for applications in medicine, agriculture, energy, environment and defense.

Awards

ORISE/ORAU Postdoctoral Fellowship 2007

NCBI/NIH Scientific Visitors Program 2006

National Research Council Research Associateship 2005

Fulbright Fellowship 1998

UNESCO Fellowship in Biotechnology 1997

Research

At present, my research interests are centered on studying metabolic control and engineering for environmental, energy, medical and defense applications. I take a systems-wide perspective at understanding quantitatively the molecular mechanisms that cooperate to achieve cellular dynamics. Concurrently, I utilize a synthetic biology approach towards the design and construction of artificial, cell-like expression systems.

Artificial Nanoscale Devices: Modeling and Construction

  • Design and construction of a nanodevice for the detection and destruction of organophosphate nerve agents
  • Modeling of artificial cells

A proven and successful strategy to neutralize the activity of organophosphorus-borne nerve agents relies on the rational design of delivery methods of enzyme-based defense structures. Recent advances in theory and methods of systems and synthetic biology have placed at our disposal the tools to develop and construct novel, controllable synthetic proto-cells that improve current technologies. My research aims at combining the knowledge accumulated over the last two decades on the enzyme organophosphate hydrolase (OPH) with the methods currently being developed for the construction of artificial cells that harbor complex biochemistries not found in their desired configurations in nature. In particular, the objective of my research is to synthesize an encapsulated non-living (nanovessel) OPH expression system, as an initial step towards the subsequent construction of self-replicating nanovessels for the remote detection and destruction of organophosphate agents.


Metabolic Control

  • Nucleotide biosynthesis as a model of cellular metabolic control
  • Biosynthesis pathways for self-replication

A complementary area of research in which I am involved, aims to harvest the understanding gained from previous metabolic modeling and engineering studies and apply it to the construction of aptamer-based molecular switches to control gene expression within encapsulated systems. This area requires, in addition, a more computationally intensive approach and will use the experience previously gained through the modeling of the pathway of pyrimidine biosynthesis in Escherichia coli. Mathematical models of genetic and allosteric control of this pathway were formulated and, given that pyrimidine biosynthesis and utilization constitute a central element of sustainable cellular metabolism for all types of organisms, we could extrapolate some of these models to other regulatory networks. I am interested in the development of, both, deterministic and stochastic models of gene expression systems. Experimentally, this type of research will help me engineer RNA molecules that can be used as riboswitches for the control of gene expression within synthetic proto-cells.

Biofuels

  • Metabolic engineering for bioethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen synthesis
  • Construction of artificial cell-based systems for biorefinery processing

The type of research that I employ is intended to become an enabling technology for the construction of bio-based synthetic platforms for the production of biofuels and emission-control systems. Harvesting the potential of the Earth’s biomass (mainly from plants and bacteria) will allow us to design renewable and cleaner systems that satisfy the increasing demand for energy. As developing nations become more industrialized, and developed ones increase their dependence on fossil fuels, we see the need to generate alternative energy sources to supply that demand. In addition, carbon emissions to the environment continue to rise and we need to design devices that help us with its decontamination. My research will provide the tools to establish the production of biofuels (biodiesel, ethanol, butanol, hydrogen, etc.) in a way that helps stimulate agricultural activity and rural economies in a manner that is environmentally sustainable. At the same time, it will allow us to leverage environmental remediation.

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