Since 2021 Christina Kiel is an Associate Professor of Systems Biology in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the University of Pavia (Italy). Her research focuses on the quantitative and systems analysis of cellular networks to understand context-specific (re)wiring in health and disease. She uses affinity purification-mass spectrometry (AP-MS) experiments and three-dimensional (3D) structural reconstruction of networks to uncover how protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks control cellular phenotypes. In the context of cancer, she is currently investigating (i) how PPI networks generate cell type specific vs. generic functions; (ii) how pathogenic mutations affect these interactions and downstream signaling; and (iii) how signal flow changes can be redirected by engineering protein interface mutations that rewire networks in a designed fashion.
Christina studied Biochemistry and obtained her PhD degree in the Department of Structural Biology at the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology, where she used thermodynamic and kinetic biophysical analyses to obtain a full quantitative description of Ras-effector binding energies and to portray the contribution of individual amino acids within those interaction interfaces. For her postdoctoral work, she joined the lab of Luis Serrano in the Department of Structural and Computational Biology at EMBL. During her time as Staff Scientist in the Department of Systems Biology at CRG Barcelona, she made contributions developing electrostatic steering as a protein engineering tool that can be used as an “experimental parameter sensitivity analysis” – in analogy to parameter sensitivity analysis known in mathematical modelling. She demonstrated how small perturbations of binding affinities (‘kinetic perturbations’ mutations) can impact downstream signaling responses, establishing how knowledge of the topology of a network alone is not enough to predict its function. In 2017, in the context of the Science Foundation Ireland President of Ireland Future Research Leaders Award, she joined Systems Biology Ireland (SBI) at University College Dublin, where she led a research group on the quantitative and systems analysis of (patho)physiological RAS signaling networks.
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