Matt Hart Research Interests

Research at GVSU

Undergraduate research is an ideal learning experience for students and is fundamentally sound from a pedagogical perspective since it touches and all of the principles of higher education. For many students it can be a life-changing (or career changing) experience. There are many opportunities for research at GVSU including Research Experience for Undergraduates programs (REU), the Student Summer Scholars program (S3), McNair Scholars Program, and others. The Office of Multicultural Affairs has several programs to aid students as well. If you are interested in participating in undergraduate research I suggest you approach one of your professors and ask about what research experiences are available in that discipline.

It is crucial to recognize that undergraduate research represents one of the best opportunities for students to learn new skills and experience course material on a more intimate level. These experiences will allow students to learn more then their coursework could provide and allow then an opportunity to work one on one with professors. It is this close mentoring that benefits so many students.

Research Interests:

The main research projects in my lab are in the field of biological organic chemistry (or bioorganic chemistry). In particular I am interested in synthesizing novel organic compounds to study receptor-ligand interactions. These types of interactions are common in many biological pathways. Currently, we have been studying the actions of a novel thyroid hormone metabolite, T1AM. This pathway involves a G-protein coupled receptor (which mediate rapid cellular events). Understanding the receptor-ligand interaction may lead to a better understanding of the related biological processes.

PLA cup recycling

In collaboration with the GVSU Chemistry Club we have been working on a program to recycle PLA cups into a "green" cleaner for the University Community. Our goal is to help reduce the university's budget by reclaiming the PLA already being used on campus. This will increase the life cycle of the lactic acid and provide a useful cleaning product for students/staff to use. If you are interested in this initiative feel free to contact me directly.

Thyroid Hormone Metabolite Action

Many people suffer from thyroid related diseases. The regulation of the thyroid hormone is crucial in the treatment of these patients. Synthetic thyroid hormone (levothyroxine) has been one of the most prescribed drugs in the past few years since it is one of the only treatments for thyroid disorders.

Recently, a novel metabolite of the thyroid hormone was discovered that potently activated a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) inducing some profound pharmacological responses in test subjects, including a dramatic decrease in temperature, metabolic rate, and cardiac output. Several natural products have been shown to activate this GPCR as well. Interestingly, the enantiomers of one of these natural products, Apomorphine, activated this GPCR to different levels. Our goal is to synthesize analogs of Apomorphine and other natural products to better understand the molecular basis of GPCR activation. The target compounds will be synthesized and evaluated in whole cell experiments.

Our approach centers around the synthesis and evaluation of novel analogs of the thyroid hormone metabolite. We are especially interested at examining the key differences between stereoisomeric compounds. A greater understanding of GPCR activation may lead to the development of new treatments for thyroid-related conditions.

Student Involvement:

These projects are designed to bring together a team of undergraduates to work towards a common goal. Each project is interdisciplinary bringing together computational work, synthetic efforts, and biological evaluation. The hope is to recruit undergraduates with different interests and skill sets to work towards a common goal. In this environment, every student will be able to broaden their own knowledge and experience through the efforts of the team.

Positions Available(?):

If you are interested in learning more about my research projects and would like to find out if there is any space in the lab, send me an e-mail at (hartm@gvsu.edu) or stop by my office at PAD 327a.