Eugene Douglass (PhD 2014, Chemistry) has won the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools’ (NAGS) Dissertation Award for 2014-2015. Founded in 1975, NAGS is one of four regional affiliates of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). The prize rotates among the academic disciplines every year. This year’s award recognized the best doctoral thesis submitted in the past five years in any of the physical sciences, mathematics, or engineering.
Douglass's graduate research focused on basic science questions in the context of immune biochemistry. His dissertation, “Understanding Drugs that Bind to Multiple Targets,” advised by David A. Spiegel, answered a question in classical biochemistry theory that had previously been described as mathematically unsolvable: how do three-component (ternary) complexes assemble and function?
“Working with my adviser's grandfather (who was a professor of mathematics at New York University), we were able to solve this ‘unsolvable’ problem and use it to achieve new insights into a wide range of outstanding chemical and biological questions,” he explains. (See the J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 6092).
“In addition, these equations guided the rational development of several immune-system-based drugs in our laboratory.” (ACS Chem. Bio. 2013, 8, 2404; Chem. Sci. 2014, 5, 2311; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 18034).
Douglass is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Immunology Laboratory at New York University’s Langone Medical School. His research focuses on the effects of metabolic, dietary, and microbial small molecules on T-cell differentiation. “The ultimate goal of this work is to identify the relevant dietary and microbial molecules that contribute to autoimmunity and use these molecules as leads for structure-based drug development,” he says.
Douglass is also a co-founder of PracticallyScience.com, a website dedicated to providing practical resources for interdisciplinary scientists. The site was highlighted in Nature Chemistry’s blog, thescepticalchymist: http://blogs.nature.com/thescepticalchymist/2013/08/teaching-the-art-of-...