October 2023 Spotlight
Dr. Noe Baruch Torres
I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, USA and working in Dr. Whitney Yin Lab.
I pursued my doctoral degree in 2020 from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV)-National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity, Guanajuato, Mexico under the supervision of Dr. Luis Gabriel Brieba de Castro. During my time in graduate school, I have developed my technical skills as a researcher in the use of kinetics assays, protein engineering, as well as other biochemical and biomolecular tools. Furthermore, I have gained experience in structural studies focused on X-ray crystallography.
The main goal of my graduate studies was to evaluate two organellar DNA polymerases (DNAPs). These were supposed to be replicative DNAPs in mitochondria but not studied. I characterized these DNAPs using DNA containing highly mutagenic lesions. I demonstrated that these DNAPs can use a DNA containing lesion to continue the DNA synthesis, providing the first example of a family- A DNAP with an active proofreading domain that efficiently bypasses an abasic site. These findings contributed to understanding how replicative DNA polymerases overcome lesions and avoid the DNA replication machinery in environments such as mitochondria. For these doctoral studies, I received the highest distinction that CINVESTAV gives to its students, the 2022 Arturo Rosenblueth award to the best doctoral thesis in biological sciences. I also received the 2022 Weizmann Award in natural sciences to the best doctoral thesis in Mexico.
In 2021, I started my Postdoctoral training in Dr. Whitney Yin Lab to continue gaining experience in DNA replication and maintenance. The main goal is to understand the structure and function of human mitochondrial DNA replication enzymes and mutants associated with mitochondrial diseases. In this project we use cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) approach along with biochemical and mutational studies to gain information on how this machinery works. Understanding the human mitochondrial DNA replication machinery is critical for basic research and human health to develop genetic therapies. For this proposal, I received the 2022 Pew Latin American Fellowship in the Biomedical Sciences by Pew Trusts that provides funding to conduct research in labs across the U.S., under the mentorship of prominent biomedical scientists.
To explore the antiviral drugs side effects on human mitochondrial polymerases, we started to investigate the mechanism of antiviral inhibition of human mitochondrial polymerases and provide information on drug interaction with the viral target and human adverse reaction to design potent and low toxicity antiviral reagent. For this proposal, I have been selected for a Mentored Research Project award by the NIH/NIAID-funded UTMB-Novartis Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness Antiviral Drug Discovery Center.
After advancing my technical skills and scientific thinking during Postdoc training, I would like to become a professor and run my own laboratory on DNA replication, repair and maintenance investigations.
Outside of lab work, I enjoy planting veggies and cooking new dishes at least one every weekend. Twitter Handle: @NBaruch1