Jeffrey R. Vieregg
Jeff Vieregg is a Staff Scientist in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from MIT and a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley.
Jeff's scientific career has revolved around various aspects of the biomolecular folding problem: how the sequence of biological molecules such as nucleic acids and proteins encodes their structure, interactions, and function. As a graduate student with Ignacio Tinoco, Jr. and Carlos Bustamante, he used single molecule optical trapping methods to study the thermodynamics and kinetics of RNA folding. As a postdoc with Niles Pierce at Caltech, he focused on applying that knowledge to the design of molecular sensors, switches, and therapeutics that function by changing their shape when particular signals are detected. Jeff then moved to the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago to investigate the molecular rules governing biomolecular phase separation, a fascinating phenomenon in which hydrophilic biomolecules like proteins and nucleic acids demix from their environment to form phase separated liquid droplets and solid precipitates. This process governs the formation of membraneless organelles in the cell and provides opportunities for delivery of therapeutic biomolecules.