ChemComm Milestones – Rajkumar Misra

We are excited to share the success of Rajkumar Misra’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “Metal-driven folding and assembly of a minimal β-sheet into a 3D-porous honeycomb framework included in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Rajkumar below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

My research group primarily revolves around the strategic design and fabrication of diverse higher order/supramolecular systems resulting from the self-assembly of minimal peptides and peptidomimetics. We eventually study these systems to explore their wide range of applications, including the development of smart biomaterials for tissue engineering and drug delivery, theragnostic agents, and functional materials to address global environmental challenges. We are fascinated the complex structures and functionalities observed in biological systems and are striving to mimic such higher order systems in the laboratory through molecular assembly.  We further work towards engineering the properties of the system by implementing post-synthetic modification.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

To set the article in a wider context, it’s essential to consider the broader landscape of the research in biomimetic materials, nanotechnology, and the interdisciplinary scientific research. Metal-peptide frameworks is an emerging area and presents a promising avenue for future research. Peptides are known to form various secondary structures. Among these, the β-sheet conformation is particularly prone to aggregation and tends to form a 1D-dimensional networks more frequently. The high aggregation propensity of β-sheets is highly evident from their implication in pathogenesis of various proteinopathies such as neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s), diabetes mellitus among others. In our research, we demonstrated a departure from the typical trend. Specifically, we revealed that a minimal β-sheet-forming peptide, incorporating terminal metal-coordinated 4- and 3-pyridyl ligands, can undergo a metal-driven folding and assembly process to form a unique 3D porous framework. Notably, we highlight the significance of the position of the 3 and 4-pyridyl groups in constructing porous frameworks and/or metallogels, which served as a platform for the light-assisted in-situ growth of Ag nanoparticles. More intriguingly, the assemblies of β-sheets reported in this research mimic the tertiary structure of β-barrels, capable of forming channels, pores, and sites for binding and catalysis. Consequently, this article seamlessly integrates into the broader context of interdisciplinary sciences, encompassing biomimicry, functional materials, and bionanotechnology.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

In the coming year, we would like to delve deeper into this area with a medicinal chemistry perspective and focus on the development of engineered peptide based therapeutic agents targeting infectious and neurodegenerative disorders as well as smart biomaterials for tissue engineering purposes. We would also be working simultaneously in the area of metal peptide frameworks, aiming to fabricate novel scaffolds with intriguing applications.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

After completing my doctorate in the field of functional foldamers at IISER Pune. I commenced my postdoctoral research at the University of Delaware, where my focus was on investigating the structure-assembly relationship of coiled-coil bundlemers. Subsequently, I spent an additional three years as a postdoctoral researcher at Tel Aviv University, delving into the realm of peptide hydrogels. Drawing from these research experiences, I transitioned to working as an independent researcher in the area of “Bioinspired Supramolecular Materials”.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I ever got was to work hard and be patient.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

I chose to publish my work in Chemical Communications as it is a highly reputed peer-reviewed scientific journal that covers a broad range of topics including general chemistry, material science, interdisciplinary sciences etc in the chemical sciences. Moreover, it is known for its high impact factor, ability to reach a wide audience within the chemical community and the most importantly rapid publication process and great journal visibility.

Rajkumar Misra received his Ph.D degree in 2018 from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune under the supervision of Prof. H. N Gopi. Subsequently, he joined as a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Darrin Pochan’s research group, the University of Delaware. After finishing the tenure, he joined Dr. Lihi Adler-Abramovich’s research group under the PBC scholarship program for outstanding post-doctoral students at Tel-Aviv University. He is currently an Inspire Faculty Fellow at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), S.A.S. Nagar. His research interests are the exploration of supramolecular assembly of bioinspired building blocks, artificial peptides, foldamers, and metal-peptide frameworks (MPFs) for asymmetric catalysis, bio-functional and advanced medical applications.

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