Assistant Professor of Bioengineering
Host: Dr. Potoyan
The Minkara COMBINE (Computational Modeling for BioInterface Engineering) Lab
at Northeastern University implements computational methods to probe molecular interactions at
biological interfaces, such as the pulmonary surfactant system and its components. Pulmonary
surfactant (PS) is a critical mixture found in the lungs at the air-water interface that assists
breathing regulation and sequestration of pathogens that attempt to enter through the airway. One
of the main components of the pulmonary surfactant system, Surfactant Protein D (SP-D), has
been the subject of experimental studies due to its immunological response against glycancontaining
pathogens, including SARS-Cov-2 and influenza. Utilizing computational models of
these surfactant proteins elucidates the critical structural and mechanistic properties of surfactant
proteins, the effects of foreign compounds on the system, and offers insight into pathways for
improving drug delivery systems. Our computational experiments incorporate methods such as
Monte Carlo, Molecular Dynamics simulations, and Molecular Docking. This talk will provide a
brief overview of ongoing projects in the COMBINE Lab and a more detailed review of the
interactions between the immunoprotein SP-D and trimannose, which will yield insights into the
interactions between SP-D and pathogens possessing exterior trimannose moieties.
Dr. Mona Minkara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and an Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Northeastern University. She heads the COMBINE (Computational Modeling for BioInterface Engineering) Lab. Dr. Minkara uses computational methods to study biological interfaces at the atomic and molecular scales. Her current research examines pulmonary surfactant, the complex protein-lipid substance lining the alveoli. As a scientist who is blind, Dr. Minkara is committed to making science more accessible and inclusive through designing new tools for blind scientists.
Dr. Minkara received a B.A. from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Florida. Before joining the Northeastern University faculty, she held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Chemical Theory Center with a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.