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Alex Nisthal, Ph.D.

Member of the Professional Staff
Ph.D. California Institute of Technology, 2012
B.S. California State University, Pomona, 2006

Alex is interested in applying protein engineering techniques to solve real-world problems.  He is developing novel enzymes to convert methane to methanol as a biological approach to recover and upgrade stranded sources of natural gas.  In collaboration with the Rosenzweig lab at Northwestern and Protabit, a local protein design startup, he has built a protein engineering pipeline capable of synthesizing and down-selecting from thousands of variants to a small handful for further characterization.  In addition, he is using structure-based design to improve the neutralizing properties of anti-influenza antibodies for use as a therapeutic defense in the event of a flu pandemic.  In collaboration with the Bjorkman Lab and the Protein Expression Center at Caltech, a mammalian cell-based pipeline was developed to generate full size human antibody variants and assay them against several viral targets.  

Both applications benefit from the ability, through methods described during Alex's PhD, to screen focused libraries output by structure-based computational protein design. Combining the screening capacity of directed evolution with the computational weighting of potential sequences can lead to better understanding, resource efficiency, and superior proteins.

Contact information:
e. nisthal at caltech dot edu
p. (626) 395-6407