Karen Allen

Allen, Karen

Professor (Chemistry, MSE)

Professor (Chemistry, MSE)

  • Primary Appointment Chemistry
  • Education B.S., cum laude in Biology, Tufts University, 1984
    Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Brandeis University, 1989
    American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in X-ray Crystallography, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989 and Brandeis University, 1990
  • Additional Affiliations Materials Science & Engineering
  • Honors and Awards Program Chair, XXI Enzyme Mechanism Conference
    Program Chair, American Chemical Society National Meeting, Biological Chemistry Division
    Faculty of 1000, contributor
    Gordon Research Conference, Enzymes, Coenzymes and Metabolic Pathways, Co-Chair
  • Areas of Interest Protein structure and function through X-ray diffraction and enzyme kinetic studies.
  • Research Areas The Allen Group investigates the structure, function, and catalytic properties of enzymes. Their insights into these essential proteins guide the design of specialized molecules and enzymes to aid in drug discovery and in the development of tools that assist in protein studies. The Allen Group researchers conduct their studies using X-ray crystallography and spectroscopy, enzymology, and bioinformatics and routinely collaborate with leading laboratories at other universities.

    Structure/Function/Catalytic Studies investigate the properties of specific enzymes in the haloalkanoic acid dehalogenase (HAD) Superfamily and the Hot Dog Thioesterase Superfamily. The HAD studies aim to develop an understanding of enzyme evolution. The Hot Dog thioestearse (found in eukaryotes, bacteria, and archea) studies focus on the biological functions of this pervasive domain. (With the Dunaway-Mariano Group, University of New Mexico)
    Drug Discovery Studies aim to develop inhibitors against the potent neurotoxin produced by the soil-dwelling bacterium Clostridium botulinum (BoNT). These inhibitors are crucial because these toxins have high potential for use in biological weapons. (With the Tzipori Group, Tufts University)
    Tool Discovery Studies develop multi-tasking, easy-to-use Lanthanide Binding Tags (LBTs). LBTs consist of 17 amino-acids which have minimal impact on the structures and functions of the proteins they help study. (With the Imperiali Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Affiliation: Primary Faculty (MSE)