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Author Spotlight

Yitzhak Tor
Current Affiliation: University of California, San Diego
Research Area: RNA Binders, Fluorescent Nucleosides, Cellular Delivery

“I have always been fascinated by the complexity of biological processes and, to a similar extent, by the role that molecular design and synthesis can play in deciphering such cellular mysteries”

Professor Tor’s current research revolves around three main areas: understanding the recognition features of nucleic acids in order to develop new binders to specifically target structures found in bacteria and viruses; discovering fluorescent nucleotides to further understanding of nucleic acid structure and function; investigating mechanisms of cellular uptake of guanidinoglycosides, a family of synthetic carriers.

He and his group use synthetic chemistry as well as biochemical assays and biophysical tools to study the way RNA interacts with small organic molecules. The team aims to develop small molecules that can specifically disrupt formation of essential RNA-RNA and RNA-protein complexes, ultimately leading to novel antibiotics and antivirals.

The group is also investigating ways to fabricate new fluorescent probes based on organic, and metal-containing chromophores. With this research they aim to understand how structure affects emission properties. They also aim to develop fluorescent analogues of biologically important molecules, such as nucleosides, in order to assemble new assays for monitoring nucleic acid dynamics, recognition and damage.

Professor Tor’s third area of research is based around guanidinoglycosides; synthetic transporters that carry large, bioactive molecules across cell membranes. By studying these transporters they hope to further understanding on how to improve uptake of molecules into living cells, particularly the potential for cell-selective drug delivery and facilitated enzyme replacement therapy.

In his spare time, Professor Tor is also passionate about music, having played the guitar for more than 35 years. He has a home recording studio and produces his own CDs.

Articles by Yitzhak Tor

Antibiotics that target protein synthesis
Published Online: Nov 22 2010
DOI: 10.1002/wrna.60
Abstract Full article on Wiley Online Library:   HTML | PDF

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