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Vincent  Luca

Vincent Luca

Vincent Luca
Assistant Professor


Office: SRB 23344
Phone: 813/745-3858


PhD: Washington University, St. Louis, 2011
Postdoctoral Fellow: Stanford University, 2012-2017


To orchestrate complex biological behaviors, cells sense cues from their local environment and relay signals to their neighbors. We study the "molecular language" of cell-to-cell communication using cutting edge approaches in structural, cellular and synthetic biology. Our goal is to visualize how cells send and receive information at the atomic level, and to harness this insight to guide the engineering of next-generation cancer therapeutics.

Research in the Luca Lab harnesses the power of directed evolution to understand how molecular signals control cellular behavior. Directed evolution enables us to evolve proteins "in a test tube" by generating millions of mutants and then selecting the "winners" with the best functional properties. We study these unique variants to determine how cellular receptors become activated and to guide the development of precisely targeted therapeutics. Our expertise with yeast display allows us to evolve complex eukaryotic proteins, which creates new avenues for the manipulation of difficult-to-target mammalian signaling pathways. Current projects in the lab integrate directed evolution with x-ray crystallography, computational modeling, and cell biology to illuminate receptor systems involved in the development of stem cells.