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Dr. Alexis Komor

Dr. Alexis Komor is a 2022 Outstanding Mentor Award Recipient! 

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Educational Background and Current Research

I received my B.S. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley. I then went to Caltech for my PhD and pursued research with Jacqueline K Barton where I designed and synthesized inorganic molecules that would site-specifically bind to mismatched in DNA. I then did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Broad Institute with David Liu where I developed base editing, a new approach to genome editing that enables the direct, irreversible chemical conversion of one target DNA base into another in a programmable manner, without requiring double-stranded DNA backbone cleavage. My current lab at UCSD develops new precision genome editing methodologies, mechanistically studies how these tools work (from both enzymatic and cellular DNA repair perspectives), and applies these tools to functionally interrogate how specific point mutations contribute to human disease.

Did you do research as an undergraduate and how did you get started in your current field?

Yes, I pursued research as an undergraduate. I designed and synthesized biomimetic inorganic molecules to catalyze water splitting. I was more interested in biologically oriented research though, so when I went to graduate school I took the opportunity to switch fields into chemical biology.

Most Memorable Mentors

My PhD advisor is one of my most memorable mentors; there are not that many female chemistry professors, so being able to look up to her and see that it can be done was very reassuring. She also showed that it was possible to have work-life balance, as she had a family and would take time to pursue hobbies and enjoy life.

Why do you enjoy being a mentor?

I enjoy training the next generation of scientists. When I mentor undergraduates and graduate students, they are in their very early stages of learning how to design experiments, think critically, and come up with hypotheses. I really enjoy giving advice and seeing them grow and mature into scientists.

What's the most useful piece of advice a mentor gave you?

Mental health is important! You can't do good science if you are overly stressed, too tired, or distracted.