Susan Powers-Lee

Susan Powers-LeeProfessor of Biology
Enzyme Structure and Function

Department of Biology
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
USA
s.powers-lee@neu.edu

Academic Education

  • Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley
  • B.S., University of Kentucky

Appointments

  • Vice Provost for Honors and First-Year Programs, Northeastern University, Boston (2011-2013)
  • Vice Provost for Undergraduate and Cooperative Education, Northeastern University, Boston (2008-2011)
  • Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Northeastern University, Boston (2006-2008)
  • Chair of Biology, Northeastern University, Boston (2003-2006)
  • Interim Chair of Biology, Northeastern University, Boston (2000-2003)
  • Professor, Northeastern University, Boston (1999-present)
  • Associate Professor, Northeastern University, Boston (1988-1999)
  • Assistant Professor, Northeastern University, Boston (1983-1988)
  • Assistant Professor, Cornell University Medical College, New York (1979-1983)
  • Instructor, Cornell University Medical College, New York (1978-1979)
  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University Medical College, New York (1975-1978)
  • NSF Fellow, University of California, Berkeley (1970-1975)

Other Professional Activities

  • Editorial Board: Journal of Biological Chemistry (1988-1993, 1995-2000, 2004-2009); Protein Expression and Purification (1990-2007; founding board member)
  • Member, Educational Affairs Committee of the American Society of Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (1986-1989)
  • Member, NIH Special Study Section C3 (June, 1985); NIH Medical Biochemistry Study Section (7/1/93-6/30/97); NIH Special Emphasis Panel (October, 2000); NIH Special Emphasis Panel, April, 2002; NIH Special Emphasis Panel (March, 2003)

Research Interests

My lab studies how protein structures have evolved to catalyze unique enzymatic activities, and to participate in a diverse set of intracellular communications. Our recent studies have been focused on human detoxification of ammonia and its control mechanisms. Carbamoyl phosphate synthetase (CPS), which catalyzes the entry and regulated step of the urea cycle, is known to be the primary site of ammonia detoxification. These studies have utilized structural, biochemical, molecular and bioinformatics techniques to define the structure and function of human CPS and to relate these parameters to those of potential evolutionary relatives. We have also reverse engineered various CPSs by creating site-directed mutants, truncated constructions and chimeras. Additionally, studies have been aimed at elucidation of the intramitochondrial environment for CPS and its effect on the enzyme’s structure and function. Applications of these studies include developing treatments for hepatitis and other disorders in which liver function is temporarily or permanently altered. Please note that I am not accepting new lab members while I am on sabbatical.

Teaching Activities

I have taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University Medical College and Northeastern University in the area of biochemistry, and have designed lecture and lab courses for both undergraduate and graduate students.  The first-year curriculum and the capstone experience have been additional areas of focus.

Publications