2017 Fall Kick-off Talk (Ron Zuckermann, LBNL) and Poster Session

“Sequence-controlled Peptoid Polymers: Folding and Assembly into Ordered Nanostructures”

Ronald N. Zuckermann, PhD, Senior Scientist and Facility Director, Biological Nanostructures, Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Wednesday, October 4nd, 2017 at 4:30 P.M.

Sapp Center Lecture Hall

Poster session and reception (food & drinks) to follow!


A fundamental challenge in materials science is to create synthetic nanoarchitectures that rival the structural complexity found in nature. A promising bioinspired approach is to synthesize sequence-defined polymer chains that fold into precise protein-like structures.  In order to efficiently produce such information-rich polymer sequences, we use the automated solid-phase submonomer synthesis method to generate sequence-defined peptoid polymers up to 50 monomers in length. The method uses readily available primary amine synthons, allowing hundreds of chemically diverse sidechains to be cheaply introduced.  We use this method, along with computational modeling, to design, synthesize, assemble and engineer a variety of protein-mimetic nanostructures.  Here we examine peptoid sequences that can form highly ordered supramolecular assemblies of nanosheets and nanotubes, and compare their molecular structures to the fundamental structures found in biology.


Ronald Zuckermann received his Ph.D. in Bioorganic Chemistry with Dr. Peter Schultz in 1989 from UC Berkeley, where he worked on the synthesis of semi-synthetic nucleases capable of the sequence-specific cleavage of RNA. After receiving the first Schultz group Ph.D., he became one of the founding chemists at Protos Corp., developing several key drug discovery technologies such as robotic combinatorial library synthesizers, affinity selection methods and a novel class of heteropolymers called “Peptoids”. Chiron Corp. acquired Protos in 1991 where this work continued and was applied to small molecule drug discovery, new biomaterials and DNA delivery. In early 2006, he joined the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he is currently Facility Director of the Biological Nanostructures Facility at The Molecular Foundry. There he is expanding the application of peptoid polymers to mimic the structure and function of proteins, by folding peptoid chains into defined nanoarchitectures. He was promoted to Senior Scientist in 2011. He has published over 115 papers and is co-inventor on 38 patents.

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