Science Off CameraPodcast

Episode 25: Prof. David Punihaole

David Punihaole is an Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont @uvermont. Prof Punihaole develops new approaches to biological imaging, combining microscopy and spectroscopy to understand how proteins fold in cells and the molecular origins of diseases like Alzheimer’s. Prof. Punihaole notes that conventional microscopy techniques lack the ability to reveal the physiochemical nature of how molecules dynamically interact with their local environment. This knowledge is crucial for not only understanding biological functions but also establishing the molecular basis for human diseases.

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I love working with my hands and I find it relaxing. You know, just oddly enough, I find it relaxing, just aligning laser beams and playing around with lasers.


“To gain a molecular understanding of biological processes, my group is developing a technique that we call Raman Chemical Imaging.  This technique combines the chemical specificity of Raman spectroscopy, which probes environmentally-sensitive molecular vibrations, with sophisticated coherent microscopy techniques.  This method enables us to image the structural dynamics and interactions of biomolecules in their native cellular environment.   We are interested in broadly applying Raman Chemical Imaging to investigate how living cells regulate protein folding, how protein aggregates cause neurodegeneration, and how polymer-based nanoparticles deliver nucleic acids for use in gene therapies.”


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