William C.K. Pomerantz

portrait of Professor William Pomerantz

William C.K. Pomerantz

Associate Professor, McKnight Land-Grant Professor, McKnight Presidential Fellow, Department of Chemistry

Contact

Smith Hall
Room 328
207 Pleasant Street Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Affiliations

Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics
Epigenetics Consortiium
Education

B.S. Chemistry, Ithaca College, 2002

Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008

Post Doctorate University of Michigan, 2008-2012

Research Interests

Chemical Biology: peptidomimetics

Organic Chemistry: organic synthesis

Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry

My lab seeks to develop new chemical probe molecules for protein-protein interactions (PPIs) by developing new chemistry and structural biology approaches. Broadly speaking, our research seeks to understand the molecular level details of PPIs. At the same time we use chemistry to design synthetic molecules that disrupt the dysregulated forms of PPI communication to further understand the underlying biology. We apply NMR, and in future experiments MRI, to visualize biomolecular interactions, and use small molecules that we synthesize in the laboratory to perturb the protein function. We use the element fluorine to facilitate our research goals due to its unique properties. Observing the interactions between two proteins is a challenging task in the complex environment of a living cell. To do so, we “tag” a protein so that it is visible amidst many other biomolecular background signals in a way that does not perturb the natural function of the protein. The fluorine atom is absent from the biological recipes for making all three essential biomolecules (proteins, sugars, and nucleic acids) but is similar in size to the hydrogen atom. Our lab overrides the strict rules of nature governing protein synthesis and can tag our proteins with a variety of fluorine atoms replacing hydrogen. This provides us with a specific probe to study our proteins without background signals. Fluorine is an extremely sensitive probe, making it easy to observe as well as highly responsive to changes in its environment. Because we can understand the surroundings of each fluorine tag, we can define not only if a molecule binds to a protein, but where, and can rapidly quantify the strength of the interaction in cells and even whole organisms using 19F MRI. This specificity allows us to determine how the molecule in question disrupts the communication between the important protein partners and informs our use of chemistry to design new molecules. One particular area of biology we anticipate our methods will impact is the field of Epigenetics, which can be read about on our lab webpage. 

rapidly quantifying the strength of the interaction in cells and even whole organisms using 19F MRI
epigenetics research by Professor Pomerantz
Honors and Awards

Selected to co-lead the International Chemical Biology Society Global Council, 2020

McKnight Presidential Fellow, July 1, 2018-June 30, 2021

Guillermo E. Borja Career Development Award, 2018

Rising Star in Chemical Biology by the International Chemical Biology Society, 2016

Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, 2016

University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, 2016-2018

Kimmel Scholar Award from the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research, 2015

National Science Foundation CAREER award (a Chemistry of Life Process Program grant from the NSF Chemistry Division), 2014

National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award Post-doctoral Fellowship, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2009

Goering student fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison Chem. Department, 2008

Fulbright Fellowship, Zürich, Switzerland, 2002-2003

Mailing Address

William C.K. Pomerantz
University of Minnesota
Department of Chemistry
A-16, 139 Smith Hall, 207 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0431