Milos V. Novotny
Distinguished Professor and the Lilly Chemistry Alumni Chair, Chemistry Department
Adjunct Professor of Medicine, IU School of Medicine
Director of the Institute for Pheromone Research
Photo by Tyagan Miller
Our laboratory has long been involved with developing new high-resolution and ultra-sensitive bioanalytical separation techniques. Current research focuses on substantial improvement in resolution of complex biological mixtures and identification of the separated compounds through techniques such as electrospray mass spectrometry and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry.
The most recent developmental aspects of our work include the preparation of highly efficient microcolumns for various forms of chromatography and capillary electrophoresis; and new detectors based on the laser technologies, imaging detectors, and other measurement principles. Techniques of ultrahigh sensitivity are being developed for new, challenging problems of biological chemistry.
In particular, capillary electrophoresis and electrochromatography combined with laser-induced fluorescence offer highly sensitive measurements at less than attomole (10-18 mole) levels. To facilitate ultrasensitive analyses of biological compounds by this technique, we have synthesized unique fluorogenic reagents that permit a spectral match with laser characteristics. Highly sensitive determinations of carbohydrates in complex mixtures are among the most pressing problems of glycobiology, a field now often referred to as the last great frontier of biochemistry. The analytical systems under development in this laboratory involve enzyme microreactors, unique fluorescent tags, and sophisticated instrumentation for proteomics and carbohydrate analysis, including various forms of mass spectrometry for sequencing, linkage analysis and a site of posttranslational modification.
Biochemically related investigations concern lipid peroxidation and its connection to the molecular mechanisms of aging and certain human diseases. For several years, our laboratory has also been active in the identification of mammalian pheromones and the biochemical aspects of olfaction. Olfactorily receptive proteins have now been isolated from mammalian tissues, and we are currently pursuing their structures, binding sites for pheromones, and the relevant molecular dynamic aspects. The membrane-bound receptor proteins are being probed for their interaction with pheromones and the consequent transmembrane signaling. Our research program gives graduate students opportunities to learn about modern analytical instrumentation and how to apply it to problems of biological significance.