Campus Box 1134
Postdoctoral Position Available! A postdoctoral position is available in the Mirica Group. Applicants should possess a Ph.D. in chemistry and should have experience in one of the following areas: organometallic chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, or coordination chemistry. To apply for this position, please send your CV and names of three references to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our research program uses inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and biological chemistry to address important metal-mediated processes with energy, biological, and medical relevance. An interdisciplinary, problem-based approach will be employed to synthesize and characterize new organic molecules and inorganic complexes, with the ultimate goal to tackle unsolved problems with broad implications to our society. Three main research areas will be pursued, which are expected to attract students and postdocs with different research interests and to provide them with a broad knowledge base applicable in most chemistry careers.
1. Catalysis of Energy-Related Processes. The global energy consumption is expected to at least double in the next fifty years and development of efficient chemical transformations for efficient fossil fuel utilization and energy production from renewable sources will be greatly needed. Methane - the main constituent of natural gas, is found in large quantities on earth and could become a significant source of energy as petroleum reserves diminish. The conversion of methane into liquid fuels (e.g., higher alkanes) would allow for a more efficient use of natural gas reserves as an inexpensive energy resource. In this regard, we are interesting in the development of novel catalysts for the oxidative oligomerization of methane using green oxidants such as O2 that should have a major impact on our society and the environment. In addition, we are also interested in developing catalytic systems for CO2 reduction, which would constitute an important step in employing CO2 as a renewable source for the generation of liquid fuels and thus positively impact the global carbon balance.
Another approach for the production of carbon-neutral energy production is to use sunlight, the largest exploitable renewable energy resource. In this context, there is a large interest in developing molecular systems that can capture solar energy and used it to produce oxygen and hydrogen from water. We are interested in the design, synthesis, and characterization of polymetallic complexes as potential catalysts for water oxidation. If successful, the developed catalysts capable of water oxidation can potentially be used in tandem with photovoltaic cells to construct artificial photosynthetic centers.
2. Amyloid β Peptides in Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease. Presently around five million people are diagnosed with AD in the US and the number is expected to reach fourteen million by 2050. The brains of patients with AD are characterized by the deposition of amyloid β (Aβ) peptide plaques, which accumulate unusually high concentrations of copper, iron, and zinc. This project aims to investigate the interaction of transition metal ions with Aβ peptides and the study of the role of metal ions in amyloid plaque and reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation. Additionally, a novel bifunctional strategy will be used to develop inhibitors of Aβ peptide aggregation, which could provide improved strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of AD.
3. Non-Heme Iron Enzymes. Non-heme iron enzymes catalyze a wide range of oxidation and oxygenation reactions that have environmental, pharmaceutical, and medical significance. These enzymes, although exhibit a similar overall fold, exhibit different substrate specificity. This project aims to design and synthesize specific inhibitors of O2-activating non-heme iron enzymes by taking advantage of the enzyme’s substrate specificity. While the proposed approach is applicable to any metalloenzyme, of particular interest are histone demethylases, a new class of enzymes that play an important role in regulating transcription and epigenetic inheritance. The developed inhibitors could be used as tools for studying the role of histone demethylases in cell function and development. Insights into the specificity of these enzymes will provide opportunities to advance therapeutics related to stem cell technology and cancer treatment.
Awards & Honors
2011, Sony Electronics Award for Excellence in Teaching
2010-2011, Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award, Oak Ridge Associated Universities
2007-2008, NIH-NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship
2006, Young Investigator Award, Division of Inorganic Chemistry, ACS
2004-2005, Franklin Veatch Memorial Fellowship, Stanford University
1999-2003, Stanford Graduate Fellowship, Stanford University
1999, Taube Prize, Stanford University
1999, Merck Index Award for Excellence in Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
1997-1998, Carnation Merit Award, California Institute of Technology
1995, Silver Medal, International Chemistry Olympiad, Beijing, China
1994, Gold Medal, International Chemistry Olympiad, Oslo, Norway
Luo, J., Khusnutdinova J. R., Rath N., Mirica L. M.* “Unsupported d8-d8 Interactions in Cationic PdII and PtII Complexes: Evidence for a Significant Metal-Metal Bonding Character” Chem. Comm., Emerging Investigators issue 2012, in press, DOI:10.1039/C1CC15420F.
Luo, J., Rath N., Mirica L. M.* “Dinuclear Co(II)Co(III) Mixed-Valence and Co(III)Co(III) Complexes with N- and O-Donor Ligands: Characterization and Water Oxidation Studies” Inorg. Chem., 2011, 50, 6152-6157.
Khusnutdinova J., Rath N., Mirica L. M.* "Dinuclear Pd(III) Complexes with a Single Unsupported Bridging Halide Ligand: Reversible Formation from Mononuclear Pd(II) or Pd(IV) Precursors" Angew. Chem Int. Ed., 2011, 50, 5532-5536.
Khusnutdinova J., Rath N., Mirica L. M.* “Stable Mononuclear Organometallic Pd(III) Complexes and Their C-C Bond Formation Reactivity” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2010, 132, 7303-7305. Featured as “News of the Week” in Chem. & Eng. News, 2010, 88, 21, 9.
Mirica, L. M.; McCusker, K. P.; Munos, J. W.; Liu, H. W.; Klinman, J. P.* “Probing the Nature of Reactive Fe/O2 Intermediates in Non-Heme Iron Enzymes through 18O Kinetic Isotope Effects.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2008, 130, 8122-8123.
Mirica, L. M.; Klinman, J. P.* “The Nature of O2 Activation by the Ethylene-Forming Enzyme ACC Oxidase.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 2008, 105, 1814-1819.
Mirica, L. M.; Rudd, D. J.; Vance, M.; Solomon, E. I.;* Hedman, B.;* Hodgson, K. O.;* Stack, T. D. P.* “A μ-η2:η2-Peroxodicopper(II) Complex with a Secondary Diamine Ligand: A Functional Model of Tyrosinase.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2006, 128, 2654-2665.
Mirica, L. M.; Vance, M.; Rudd, D. J.; Hedman, B.;* Hodgson, K. O.;* Solomon, E. I.;* Stack, T. D. P.* “Tyrosinase Reactivity in a Model Complex: An Alternative Hydroxylation Mechanism.” Science, 2005, 308, 1890-1892. Featured as a perspective in Science, 2005, 308, 1876-1877 and a science concentrate in Chem. & Eng. News, 2005, 83, 26, 38.
Mirica, L. M.; Stack, T. D. P. * “A Tris(m-hydroxy)tricopper(II) Complex as a Model of the Native Intermediate in Laccase and Its Relationship to a Binuclear Analogue.” Inorg. Chem., 2005, 44, 2131-2133.
Mirica, L. M.; Ottenwaelder, X.; Stack, T. D. P.* “Structure and Spectroscopy of Copper–Dioxygen Complexes.” Chem. Rev., 2004, 104, 1013-1046.
Mirica, L. M.; Vance, M.; Rudd, D. J.; Hedman, B.;* Hodgson, K. O.;* Solomon, E. I.;* Stack, T. D. P.* “A Stabilized μ-η2:η2-Peroxodicopper(II) Complex with a Secondary Diamine Ligand and Its Tyrosinase-like Reactivity.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2002, 124, 9332-9333.
Chemistry 112, General Chemistry II
Chemistry 464, Inorganic Biochemistry
Chemistry 452, Special Topics in Inorganic Chemistry: Metal-Catalyzed Reactions in Chemistry and Biology