de Pablo Group: William Grubbe

Graduate Student

de Pablo Group


Will’s research involves protein engineering and the simulation of protein-protein interactions to better understand receptor-ligand interactions in biological systems. Traditional methods of screening for activity in protein research are currently a burden on the scientific community, as they exhaust time and resources with a relatively low rate of success when assessing protein activity after relying on techniques such as error-prone PCR or gene shuffling to perform directed evolution. For this reason, improved methods for predicting protein structure and function before synthesis would improve the speed and efficacy of the design cycle for engineered proteins. Using molecular simulation models, Will is attempting to better instruct protein engineering to reduce the time and cost needed to develop protein-based therapeutics and technologies, specifically focusing on the interferon (IFN) superfamily of cytokine proteins.


Will is from Palatine, Illinois, and received his B.S. and M.S. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Northwestern University in 2017 and 2018, performing research in synthetic biology and cell-free protein synthesis and completing his master’s thesis under Prof. Michael Jewett. He joined the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering as a graduate student in 2018 and is co-advised by Professors Juan Mendoza and Juan de Pablo. Broadly, Will is interested in better understanding protein structure and function and how protein-based technologies can be used to solve a wide range of challenges. Outside of the lab, Will enjoys nature (especially plants), writing, jazz music, and learning.

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