Welcome to the Palmer Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder!
Our research lies at the interface of chemistry and biology, where the application of chemical and physical principles provides a unique opportunity to better understand the fundamental biochemistry of living cells. Cells are complex entities that must integrate internal and external signals in order to coordinate diverse functions. Living cells are also dynamic, and this dynamism is key to understanding the mechanisms between cause and effect for biological processes. Deciphering the molecular details of how cellular constituents define healthy and diseased states, and how dynamics propagate from the cellular to the organismal level, is one of the great challenges in modern biology. Our lab develops new technologies to interrogate signaling cascades in cells to understand how the actions of specific proteins, molecules, and ions contribute to cellular function. We combine in vitro spectroscopic and biophysical techniques with protein design and engineering to develop novel fluorescent probes, and use long-term time-lapse fluorescence microscopy to elucidate the mechanisms of cellular signaling pathways. Longitudinal single-cell analyses also allow us to explore the origins and consequences of heterogeneity in biological systems. We are specifically interested in how cells regulate metal ions, how pathogens alter cell biology, and how to engineer improved photophysical properties in fluorescent proteins. To learn more about specific projects, please visit our research page.
Last update: 05/24/2015
05/18/2015- Natalie and Dilara join the lab! Welcome!
05/13/2015- Zack's last day in the lab. Good luck starting graduate school this fall at Cornell!
05/11/2015- Madi's last day in the lab. Good luck with Teach for America!
05/08/2015- Sarah, Madi, and Zack walk at CU Spring Commencement! Congratulations!
04/28/2015- Yan travels to the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA to attend the Analytical and Quantitative Light Microscopy course!
04/07/2015- Sarah travels to Cold Spring Harbor to attend the Quantitative Imaging: From Cells to Molecules course!
04/01/2015- Dave's first day as our new Lab Manager! Welcome!
03/27/2015- Sarah and Mateo travel to Boston to attend the Experimental Biology 2015 Conference!
03/24/2015- The lab attends the first ever Andor Academy at BioFrontiers!
03/24/2015- Amy travels to Germany to attend the 66th Mosbacher Kolloquium (Metals in Biology - Cellular Functions and Diseases)
03/20/2015- Yeabsira receives a BURST grant to continue her research over the summer!
03/13/2015- Liz, Lynn, Yu, and Yan attend the Optogenetics Keystone Meeting in Denver and Yan presents her research.
02/02/2015- Eugenia joins the lab! Eugenia comes to us from Corrie Detweiler's lab in MCDB! Welcome!
01/14/2015- Yeabsira's first day in the lab!
01/05/2015- Molly joins the lab! Molly received her Ph.D. from Dartmouth with Dr. Dean Wilcox. Welcome!
01/05/2015- Sarah's first day as a postdoc!
01/05/2015- Esther travels to Paris to meet with collaborators at the Institut Pasteur!
12/15/2014- Amy presents at the NIH Common Fund High-Risk High-Rewards Symposium at NIH!
12/10/2014- The group has a cookoff at the annual holiday party! For best main couse - Sarah comes in first and Ali comes in second! For best dessert - Lynn comes in first and Joe comes in second! Nice work all... it was delicious!
11/17/2014- Schuyler presents on his postdoctoral research at our lab meeting!
10/24/2014- Sarah successfully defends her thesis!
10/11/2014- The Palmer lab attends the annual Biochemistry Departmental retreat and Kyle gives a great talk!
10/10/2014- Kyle and Mike present their research at the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology retreat.
10/06/2014- Liz joins the lab! Liz received her Ph.D. from UCSD with Dr. Steve Mayfield. Welcome!
09/28/2014- Amy attends the Fluorescent Proteins and Biological Sensors IV conference at Janelia Farms.
09/14/2014- Amy and Lynn attend the International Society for Zinc Biology conference in Monterey, CA!
09/12/2014- Amy receives a Director’s Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health!
08/11/2014- Joe Dragavon arrives to run our Biofrontiers Microscopy Core! Welcome!
08/07/2014- Mateo presents his summer research at the annual SMART Summer Poster Symposium!
07/25/2014- Mateo travels to Connecticut to present his summer research at the Leadership Alliance National Symposium.
07/25/2014- Yan receives her K99 fellowship from the NIH!
07/23/2014- Dr. Caryn Outten from the University of South Carolina arrives to carry out her sabbatical in our lab. Welcome!
07/22/2014- Mike receives the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Training Grant!
07/06/2014- Amy attends the Human Frontier Science Program's Awardees Meeting in Lugano, Switzerland!
06/25/2014- Lynn receives the Signaling and Cellular Regulation Training Grant!
06/23/2014- Yan's K99 fellowship from the NIH is pending!
06/02/2014 - Mateo, our summer research (SMART) undergraduate intern, starts working in the lab on a pathogenesis project!
06/01/2014 - Amy, Yan, Kyle, Yu, and Lynn present their research at the Trace Elements in Biology and Medicine Conference!
05/30/2014 - Genevieve's last day in the lab. Now she is headed back to medical school to finish her MD! Congratulations and good luck!
05/12/2014- Mike and Lynn join the lab!
05/12/2014- Sarah presents her research at the annual Signaling Minisymposium.
05/02/2014- Eldon's last day in the lab! Good luck at GE Healthsciences!
04/28/2014 - Madi presents her work at the UROP/HHMI poster session.
04/22/2014 - Kevin's last day as our microscopy core director! We wish him the best of luck as he starts his postdoctoral research position at UT Southwestern!
04/14/2014 - Esther joins the lab! Esther received her PhD from Notre Dame with Dr. Patricia Clark. Exciting!
04/04/2014 - Genevieve successfully defends her thesis!
04/01/2014 - Amy and Corrie Detweiler are awarded a Butcher seed grant for collaboration on the Salmonella project!
11/01/2013 - Madi is awarded a UROP HHMI Biosciences grant!
10/13/2013 - Sarah travels to Heidelberg, Germany to present her work at the EMBO New Approaches and Concepts in Microbiology conference.
10/05/2013 - Sarah, Ali, and Amy travel to Boston, MA to present their work at the ASM Salmonella conference.
10/03/2013 - Kevin travels to Heidelberg, Germany to present his work at the EMBO Seeing is Believing conference.
09/25/2013 - The group has a cook off! Ali is awarded first place! Eldon and Yan come in second and third.
09/15/2013 - Genevieve returns from France!
09/05/2013 - Yan publishes her work comparing Zinc (II) quantification between FRET sensors and a small molecule dye in ACS Chemical Biology!
07/28/2013 - Amy, Kyle, and Yan travel to Newport, RI to present their work at the Cell Biology of Metals Gordon conference.
07/12/2013 - Jose's last day in the lab! Now he's off to do a postdoc at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center! Good luck, Jose!
06/18/2013 - Genevieve heads to Paris to work on a three month project at the Institut Pasteur with Jost Enninga!
05/29/2013 - Sarah is awarded an F31 fellowship from the NIH!
05/14/2013 - Sarah travels to Paris to take a course on using the image analysis software Icy with Amy at the Institut Pasteur!
05/06/2013 - Yu joins the Palmer lab!
05/01/2013 - Amy and Natalie Ahn are awarded a Butcher Seed Grant for collaboration in the Zinc project!
02/12/2013 - Palmer Lab Website is back!!!
12/31/2012 - Amy takes off for Paris to carry out her sabbatical at the Institut Pasteur with Pascale Cossart!
12/18/2012 - In collaboration with David J. Eide, at the University of Wisconsin, a paper is published in PNAS regarding vesicular zinc efflux.
11/16/2012 - Jose publishes his work on alternately colored FRET sensors in PLoS One!
08/20/2012 - The lab goes out to happy hour to celebrate with Hairong, as she takes of to Drexel University to start her own lab!
08/09/2012 - Jamal Bryant concludes his excellent summer research at the SMART poster conference!
09/01/2012 - Madi receives a UROP grant!
06/12/2012 - Genevieve published in ACS Chemical Biology!
06/12/2012- Amy gave a talk at the FASEB meeting "Trace Elements in Biology & Medicine" in Steamboat Springs, CO.
05/23/2012 - The new Jennie Smoly Biotechnology Building Microscopy Core is up and running, with a brand new 6 laser line, 4 PMT, resonant scanning confocal with additional functionality provided by single molecule total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF)!
05/14/2012- Jose will be giving a talk at the Signaling Symposium at University of Colorado!
05/01/2012 - Madi receives a UROP grant!
05/01/2012- A review, Visualizing Metal Ions in Cells: An Overview of Analytical Techniques, Approaches, and Probes is published in Biochim. Biophys. Acta!
03/17/2012- Jennifer's paper on Red-Fluorescent Protein Photobleaching Cytometry published by ACS Analytical Chemistry!
02/17/2012 - Genevieve was awarded 2nd place in poster competition at the ISZB meeting in Australia!
02/09/2012 - Hairong Ma's microfluidic work featured in Biotechniques!
01/22/2012 - Hairong Ma published in JACS this week on her microfluidic work! High-Throughput Examination of FRET-detected Metal-Ion Response in Mammalian Cells.
01/10/2012 - Amy and her family, as well as Genevieve Park, travel to present their work in Australia at the International Society for Zinc Biology Melbourne Conference.
10/05/2011 - After 6 years of work, Amy gave her tenure talk to a full audience in Cristol 142!
09/12/2011 - Sarah at Cold Spring Harbor presenting her recent work on Salmonella at the Microbial Pathogenesis Meeting
09/09/2011 - The Palmer lab attended the University of Colorado Biochemistry retreat in Winter Park, and Ali gave a great talk!
08/19/2011 - Janet's last day in lab, we wish her all the best as she takes off to start her exciting post-doc at UT-Southwestern!
08/5/2011 - Microscope upgraded, and now includes perfect focus system and automated stage, enabling multipoint time-lapse imaging without drift!
08/29/2011 - Hairong and Jennifer presented their recent work at the ACS conference in Denver.
7/03/2011 - Caitlin Stoddard had her last day in the Palmer lab and is headed to UC San Francisco to start her own graduate career! Congrats!
7/1/2011 - Analysis of Red-Fluorescent Proteins Provides Insights into Dark-State Conversion and Photodegradation accepted by Biophysical Journal!
6/10/2011 - The lab headed up into the mountains, through the small town of Fairplay (The home of Comedy Central's South Park) to Buena Vista, and went white water rafting in Brown Canyon! A couple photos provided in the lab photos section.
5/20/2011 - Amy visited her undergraduate Alma Matter, Dartmouth, to give an invited talk.
5/9/2011 - Genevieve visits HHMI's Janelia Farm for a conference on mitochondria!
5/3/2011 - Amy gave a talk at University of Wisconsin, Madison.
5/1/2011 - Ali joined the Palmer Lab and will work on the Salmonella project!
4/3/2011 - Kevin attended HHMI's Janlia Farm for a conference on multiphoton imaging, visited with Schuyler (now at the NIH), and even got a personal tour to see Harold Hess' iPalm.
3/24/2011 - Zach was awarded the Bioscience Undergraduate Research Skills & Training (BURST) fellowship from the Biological Sciences Initiative (BSI)!
3/21/2011 - Yan's paper, 'Measuring Steady State and Dynamic ER and Golgi Zn(II) with Genetically Encoded Sensors' published by PNAS!
3/10/2011 - Janet turns 30!
3/7/2011 - Jennifer Lubbeck, part of the RFP collaboration, gives a talk at Biophysical Society.
3/3/2011 - Amy, Yan, Genevieve, and Janet publish a review on biosensors in Trends Biotechnology.
1/10/2011 - Amy featured in the National Institute of General Medical Science's 'Findings'.
12/17/2010 - Janet graduates with her PhD!
12/15/2010 - Jennette, a first year organic graduate student with previous experience involving bioinorganic chemistry, joined the lab. She will be focusing on Zinc (II) homeostasis and disease.
10/30/2010 - Janet and Amy are published in Nature - In collaboration with Vamsi Mootha at Harvard Medical School, Janet and Amy confirmed the involvement of MICU1, a mitochondrial associated protein with Calcium (II) uptake. For decades, the mechanism of mitochondrial calcim uptake has remained enigmatic, and this paper provides a significant step forward in understanding mitochondrial calcium homeostasis and dynamics in vivo.
10/25/2010 - Genevieve and Sarah join the lab - Genevieve Park, an MD/PH.D. student attending the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Sarah McQuate, a 3rd year graduate student in the department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, recently joined the lab. Sarah received her B.S. from the University of Puget Sound int he Pacific Northwest and will study Salmonella pathogensis. Genevieve received her B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and will study Zinc (II) homeostasis.
9/8/2010 - Kevin presented a poster at the Society of General Physiologists 'New Optical Methods in Cell Physiology' Symposia at Wood's Hole, MA.
7/10/2010 - Amy's first graduate student, Phil Dittmer, successfully defended his Ph.D. The topic of his dissertation was the sub-cellular localization and dynamics of zinc (II) in biological health and signaling.
6/12/2010 - Yan and Jose Attend FASEB Trace Metals - Yan will present her recent work regarding the development of improved fluorescent protein based Zinc (II) sensors that can now measure metal homeostasis from picomolar to micromolar quantities. In addition, Jose was awarded a FASEB MARC travel award to attend the conference.
4/4/2010 - Microfluidic Cell Counter published - Dawn Schaefer (Colorado School of Mines) and Emily Gibson report a simple fabrication technique to create all silicon/glass microfluidic devices using femtosecond laser ablation and anodic bonding. In a first application, they constructed a cell counting device based on small angle light scattering. The counter featured embedded optical fibers for multi-angle excitation and detection of scattered light and/or fluorescence. The performance of the microfluidic counter was benchmarked against a commercial fluorescence-activated cell sorter.
4/1/2010 - Sub-Cellular Zinc (II) Dynamics published - In this publication, several new genetically encoded sensors for Zinc (II) are presented based upon fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). Sources and sinks for Zinc (II) are explored within the cell, including the cytosol, plasma membrane, and mitochondria. Localized probes reveal that mitochondria contain an elevated pool of Zinc (II) under resting conditions that can be released into the cytosol upon glutamate stimulation of hippocampal neurons. Results suggests that mitochondria serve as a source of and a sink for Zinc (II) signals under different cellular conditions.
4/1/2010 - FACS-Based Selection of 3x ReAsH Motif published - Schuyler performed an in situ selection of a randomized amino acid linker library (10.2 million peptides) flanking three tandem optimized TC repeats.
4/1/2010 - Calcium Dynamics, Alzheimers, and Presenillin-1 published - The connection between presenillin-1, calcium regulation, and Alzheimer's disease may provide the key to understanding the long-observed, but poorly understood, link between Alzheimer's disease and Calcium (II) dysregulation. In this study, Janet examined seven familial Alzheimer's causing mutations in presenillin-1 to define how they influence ER calcium levels and dynamics. Ultimately, results indicate that mutations in presenillin-1 can alter the balance of calcium in cells and have the potential to influence the nature of calcium signals.
4/1/2010 - Real-Time Salmonella Invasion - Featured int he news and views section of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, Published in Nature Methods, Schuyler uses a GFP complementation assay to tag effectors of the type-III secretion system in gram-negative bacteria, thereby allowing real-time localization and imaging of the effectors in the host cell throughout the course of a bacterial infection.
4/1/2010 - Schuyler Defends - Schuyler successfully defended his Ph.D. and has accepted a position as a post-doctoral associate with Dr. Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz at the NIH in Maryland.
3/5/2010 - Kevin presents at Janelia Farm - Presenting at Janelia Farm's 'Novel Approaches to Bioimaging II' Conference, Kevin was asked to give a short talk regarding his recent work involving microfluidic based optimization of red-fluorescent proteins.