In my research I focus on different aspects of polyelectrolyte complex droplet formation.
Droplets of Life:
I believe that inside complex coacervates containing RNA and polycations proteins can be formed from amino acids without the presence of enzymes and DNA. These droplets will allow me to provide direct evidence for the RNA world hypothesis, but understanding the mechanism is equally if not more important.
Droplets of Death:
In many cases membrane-less organelles are part of a disease pathway. Proteins which accumulate inside the droplets form fibrils that are lethal for the cell. If we can predict under what conditions disease related proteins bind and accumulate, this may lead to new ways to interupt the disease pathway.
Droplets for Technology:
The fundamental questions that are being investigated in the Droplets of Life and Droplets of Death pillars of my research will lead to new applications of complex coacervate droplets. This can go two ways: the concepts used in biology can be applied to create new materials, but if one considers complex coacervates as a material we learn from the material properties e.g., structural, mechanical and wetting properties. From this we can learn about the membrane-less organelles The droplets for Technology pillar will focus on the knowledge utilisation of my research.