Carlo YuviencoCarlo Yuvienco

Ph.D. (2nd year) , Biomedical Engineering

Year in graduate program: 2nd year
Research Topic: Protein Engineering
Partner School: PS 11 Purvis J Behan
Partner Teacher: Robyn Tommaselli
Email Carlo


Under the guidance of Prof. Jin Kim Montclare, Carlo is developing protein-based biomaterial polymers for biomedical applications such as drug delivery and tissue regeneration. These novel polymers are comprised of two distinct domains - elastin and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein coiled-coil domain (COMPcc)-that, by themselves, exhibit unique physicochemical properties. Specifically, the self-assembly properties of the COMPcc domain allow the polymer to bind and release small molecules; the self-assembly properties of the elastin domain provide a structural foundation to facilitate protected transport and cell adhesion. Since Carlo's participation in this group as a GK-12 Fellow, it has been shown and published that the covalent arrangement of these two domains in a polymer chain affects the physicochemical properties of the whole protein polymer. More recently, he is focusing on biosynthetically incorporating non-natural amino acids, which contain fluorine, into these protein-based biomaterials to explore the effects of fluorine chemistry on the protein's overall structural, chemical and functional properties. His goals include imaging these fluorinated proteins with 19F MRI, which would exemplify the potential to track protein-based biomaterials in vivo. Carlo's work will contribute insight into the applicative effects of combining protein chemistry with synthetic chemistry in the context of biomedical applications.

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Figure: GK-12 Fellow, Carlo Yuvienco, optimizes growth conditions for genetically-engineered E.coli strains. These bacteria are engineered to enable the biosynthesis of novel protein biomaterials, the characterization and application of which is the focus of Carlo's Ph.D. research.

Integration in The Class Room

Carlo integrates his research in 4th and 5th grade science classrooms as well as an afterschool robotics program. He has engaged students to learn about human body organ systems with regards to his accumulated experience with biomedical topics, highlighting proteins and DNA. He has found that many students can relate to genetics and that this topic opens an avenue for educational discussion. He has incorporated popular-culture entertainment into his lectures, such as the Spider-man and X-men film series, so as to better relate the topics of genetic/protein engineering. In one instance, Carlo allowed students to participate in exploring the structure of proteins and DNA not through ball and stick models, but rather through an interactive 3D (stereoscopic) exercise on the computer using Chimera (UCSF) modeling software. This not only allowed students to see the DNA molecule in three dimensions, but also allowed them to interact (rotate and zoom-in) with the model in 3D.

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Figure: 5th grade students learning how to view 3-dimensional models of DNA. Stereoview operates under the same principle as 3D art books. With the aid of computers, students are able to manipulate the 3D image real-time. It was observed that the stereoview activity enhanced the study of the macromolecule's basic features.

1 - AMPS Fellow; 2 - CBRI Fellow