Genetically-encoded Zinc (II) sensors - Transition metals are critical to life as we know it. One third of all proteins contain a metal ion cofactor and these proteins play roles in a host of fundamental cellular processes. Paradoxically these essential metals are also toxic and cells must tightly regulate metal acquisition, availability, and export. Our research is aimed at understanding how cells maintain a critical balance of metal ions and to identify the mechanisms by which dyshomeostasis lead to disease and degeneration. Read more here...








Calcium (II), Zinc (II), and Cell Biology  - Our lab is interested in using the genetically encoded zinc (II) sensors we design to monitor zinc (II) homeostasis in a variety of cell types. In addition to studying how cells regulate zinc (II), we are interested in understanding calcium regulation in the cell. Calcium is one of the most fundamental signals in cells and is responsible for controlling diverse processes such as cell growth, cell death, and gene transcription. Calcium signals are notoriously organized in both time and space. We use genetically encoded calcium sensors to examine the spatial distribution of these signals in primary tenocytes in order to study the role of calcium in translating mechanosensitive signals of the environment. Read more here...






Bacterial Pathogenesis - Gram negative bacterial pathogens such as Salmonella have evolved a sophisticated mechanism for invading and taking over mammalian host cells. This process involves the coordination of multiple bacterial effector proteins. These effector proteins are injected through the Type III Secretion System into a mammalian host cell whereupon they bind to mammalian cell proteins and hijack signaling pathways. Our research is focused on developing strategies for imaging bacterial invasion and replication in order to elucidate the function of individual effector proteins. Read more here...






mCherry Crystal Structure

Advanced Microfluidic Cytometry - We have developed several variants of advanced multiparametric microfluidic cell sorting systems.  One combines ligand addition and droplet generation for dielectrophoretic sorting of mammalian, yeast, or bacterial cells expressing FRET sensor libraries.  Importantly, this system provides the opportunity to idetify improved sensors based upon the ligand, kinetics, binding affinity, and dynamic range, simultaneously.  The other advanced cytometry system combines photobleaching and fluorescence lifetime measurements with optical (1064 nm) trapping, ultimately providing the basis for selecting new Red-Fluorescent proteins with improved total photon output.  Read more here...  





The Palmer lab is also associated with the following training programs and initiatives:


The Jennie Smoly Biotechnology Building (JSCBB) Microscopy Core

NSF IGERT in Computational Optical Sensing and Imaging

Colorado Initiative in Biotechnology (CIMB)

NIH Biophysics Training Program

NIH Signaling and Cell Cycle Regulation Training Program

NIH Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Training Program

Center for Neuroscience


The Palmer lab is involved in active collaborations with the following labs:


Natalie Ahn, CU Biochemistry, CU Biofrontiers Institute - Mass spectrometry analysis of Zinc (II) in cells


Stephanie Bryant, CU Chemical and Biological Engineering - Calcium signaling in 3D Tissue Models


Corrie Detweiler, CU Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology - Salmonella infections in mouse models


Ralph Jimenez, JILA, NIST, CU Chemistry - Optically integrated microfluidics


Kevin Jones, CU Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology - Calcium and neurodegeneration


Leslie Leinwand, CU Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology, CU Biofrontiers Institute - Cardiomyocyte Biology


Alexis Templeton, CU Geological Sciences - Imaging microbial biofilms


Adrie Von Bockhoven, UC Denver - Zinc in Prostate Cancer