Research Interests

Within specific protein sites, exceptionally intense electric fields can be found, reaching magnitudes as high as 100 MV/cm, or 10 V/nm. These remarkable electric fields are produced by charges and dipoles held by amino acid residues, peptide backbones, and metal ions. Once the electric fields are projected onto a chemical bond undergoing a reaction, its transition state can be substantially stabilized, leading to rate acceleration by several orders of magnitude.   

The Ji lab aims to leverage the power of protein electrostatics to activate chemical bonds that are believed inert and to drive chemical reactions that are often sluggish. We are especially interested in the chemical bonds and the reactions at the interface of chemistry and biology. By combining synthetic chemistry, molecular biology, enzymology, and spectroscopy, we aim to develop novel biocatalysts, medicines, and diagnostics that improve human health.