Jerelle A. Joseph

Position
Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Role
Starting January, 2023
Office
A421 Engineering Quad
Degrees

PhD, Chemistry, University of Cambridge, 2018

MPhil, Chemistry, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, 2014

BSc, Chemistry and Mathematics, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, 2012

Bio/Description

Honors and Awards

  • Postdoctoral Award, Biophysical Society, IDP Subgroup, 2022
  • Rising Star in Soft and Biological Matter, University of Chicago, 2020
  • Junior Research Fellowship, King’s College, Cambridge, 2020
  • Bill Gates Sr Award, Gates Cambridge Trust, 2018
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Gates Cambridge Trust, 2014
  • Cambridge International Scholarship, Cambridge Trust, 2014
  • General Postgraduate Scholarship, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, 2012
  • Valedictorian, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, 2012
  • R. L. Seale Chemistry Prize, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, 2012
  • Faculty of Arts and Science Scholarship, Government of Dominica, 2009

Research Interests

The goal of our research is to determine the principles governing intracellular compartmentalization and to employ these rules for bioengineering. 

We are particularly interested in the characterization of biomolecular condensates—compartments inside cells that lack physical membranes. These compartments are largely composed of proteins, RNA and other biomolecules and are thought to assemble via phase separation. Importantly, biomolecular condensates are linked to both healthy (e.g., RNA processing) and aberrant (e.g., neurodegenerative disorders) cellular functions. Thus, careful characterization of these compartments presents exciting opportunities for engineering new cellular functions, as well as for developing therapies to bypass condensate-linked disorders.  

A leading aim of our research is to determine the physicochemical factors that dictate the fate of biomolecular condensates and to engineer strategies for regulating their properties. 

To this end, we design computer simulations and develop theoretical approaches that enable us to interrogate biomolecular condensates across a variety of spatiotemporal scales. Specifically, we integrate molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo-based techniques, as well as implement and design atomistic, coarse-grained, and minimal model representations of biomolecules. Using these tools, we investigate the factors that govern the formation, dissolution, and misregulation of biomolecular condensates. We then exploit the mechanistic insight to rationally design condensates with novel functions.

Our research lies at the intersection of biology, chemistry, physics, computer science and engineering and is therefore highly collaborative. Ultimately, we aim to expand the fundamental understanding of self-assembly in living systems and make impactful contributions to bioengineering applications.

Selected Publications
  1. Joseph JA*, Reinhardt A*, Aguirre A, Chew PY, Russell KO, Espinosa JR, Garaizar A, and Collepardo‑Guevara R. Physics‑driven coarse‑grained model for biomolecular phase separation with near-quantitative accuracy. Nature Computational Science, 1, 732–743 (2021).
  2.  Krainer G*, Welsh TJ*, Joseph JA*, Espinosa JR, Wittmann S, de Csilléry E, Sridhar A, Toprakcioglu Z, Gudiškytė G, Czekalska MA, Arter WE, Guillén‑Boixet J, Franzmann TM, Seema Q, St George‑Hyslop P, Hyman AA, Collepardo‑Guevara R, Alberti S, and Knowles TPJ. Reentrant liquid condensate phase of proteins is stabilized by hydrophobic and non‑ionic interactions. Nature Communications, 12, 1085 (2021).
  3. Joseph JA*, Espinosa JR*, Sanchez‑Burgos I, Garaizar A, Frenkel D, and Collepardo‑Guevara R. Thermodynamics and kinetics of phase separation of protein–RNA mixtures by a minimal model. Biophysical Journal, 120, 1219–1230 (2021).
  4. Espinosa JR, Joseph JA, Sanchez‑Burgos I, Garaizar A, Frenkel D, and Collepardo‑Guevara R. Liquid network connectivity regulates the stability and composition of biomolecular condensates with many components. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117, 13238–13247 (2020).
  5. Joseph JA, Röder K, Chakraborty D, Mantell RG, and Wales DJ. Exploring biomolecular energy landscapes. Chemical Communications, 53, 6974–6988 (2017).