Image: PyMOL rendering of human pitrilysin metallopeptidase in complex with amyloid beta peptide, RCSB PDB #4NGE (King et al. 2014, Structure 22:996–1007), as studied in Smith-Carpenter and Alper 2018, Protein Science 27:861-873




We study the molecular causes of amyloidogenic and metabolic diseases, emphasizing the academic and professional development of undergraduate and graduate student researchers. 

Projects in the lab seek to: 1. Evaluate the mechanism of substrate recognition by human insulin-degrading enzyme and related metalloezymes in proteolytic clearance of amyloidogenic peptides and metabolic hormones 2. Develop new approaches to amyloid plaque disruption using functionalized magnetic nanoparticles, and 3. Identify and characterize small molecule modulators of human insulin-degrading enzyme and other chemotherapeutic targets through rational drug discovery.

The biochemistry lab at Sacred Heart University hosts up to 60 undergraduate and 25 graduate students per year
as part of the introductory biochemistry and graduate biochemical analysis curriculum. 


We are working with collaborators at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield University, Clemson University, and elsewhere to develop new and exciting ideas and areas of biomedical research.

More information about our work can be found HERE.




Assistant Professor - Department of Chemistry and Physics, Sacred Heart University

Ph.D.: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens GA (Walter K. Schmidt Jr., advisor)

Post-doctoral: Biochemistry, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis TN (Janet Partridge, advisor)



Undergraduate Student Researcher

Blair is a rising Senior in Sacred Heart University's Chemistry Major (c/o 2019) electing concentration in molecular biochemistry, and also plays attack for the SHU lacrosse team.

Blair is exploring the mechanistic function of human insulin-degrading enzyme, by investigating structure/function relationships that may be critical to enzyme function. She is currently working to clone, purify and characterize engineered mutant alleles of the insulin-degrading enzyme that she designed as part of the second semester CH344 (Biochemistry II Lab) curriculum.



Undergraduate Student Researcher

Brett is a rising senior in Sacred Heart University's first class of biochemistry majors (B.S. biochemistry c/o 2019), and also plays goalie for the SHU hockey team.

Brett is studying mechanistic implications of targeted insulin-degrading enzyme mutants that he cloned and purified as part of the second semester biochemistry lab.



Undergraduate Student Researcher

Nick is a rising senior in Sacred Heart University's first class of biochemistry majors (BS in Biochemistry, c/o 2019), and serves as a Research Associate at St. Vincent's Medical Center and plays alto saxophone in the Sacred Heart University Band.

Nick is exploring the use of magnetically active nanoparticles for the targeted manipulation of amyloidogenic peptides, in collaboration with researchers from the labs of Jillian Smith-Carpenter (Fairfield University) and Olin Thompson Mefford III (Clemson University).

Nick's work has been supported by the SHU College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Initiative, which awarded funding for his research and travel to present at the 255th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans LA (March 2018). Nick has also presented his work at the Sacred Heart University Academic Festival and is a coauothor on an a scientific manuscript under  review for publication in the ACS journal Biochemistry.



Masters Student Researcher

Andrea is a Master's student in the department of Chemistry studying towards the combined BS/MS (4+1) in Chemistry with concentration in molecular biochemistry. From 2014-2017 Andrea was also a clutch infielder for SHU softball team.

Andrea's master's thesis concerns structure function studies of the human insulin degrading enzyme, emphasizing characterization of charge sharing interactions between enzymatic domains. Andrea was also involved in the development of enzyme kinetic assays for analysis of mammalian arginase function, and conducted pilot screens for identification of putative arginase inhibitors.



Masters Student Researcher

Maryam is a Master's student in the department of Chemistry studying towards the MS in Chemistry with concentration in molecular biochemistry. 

Maryam is working in collaboration with researchers from the labs of departmental colleagues Dr. Joe Audie and Dr. Todd Sullivan to identify and characterize novel inhibitors of human arginase 1, a potential anticancer target.

To learn more about our Researchers including Lab Alumni CLICK HERE




Smith-Carpenter JE, Alper BJ. Protein Science.
2018 Apr;27(4):861-873. doi: 10.1002/pro.3380. Epub 2018 Feb 23. PMID: 29383861

Stefanidis L, Scinto KV, Strada MI, Alper BJ.
J. Chem. Educ. 2018 Jan,95(1), pp 146–151. doi: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00535

Stefanidis L, Fusco ND, Cooper MI, Alper BJ. Biochemistry.
 2018 July,57(32), pp 4903-4914. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00474

Considine KL, Stefanidis L, Grozinger KG, Audie J, Alper BJ.
Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2017 Mar 15;27(6):1335-1340. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2017.02.024. Epub 2017 Feb 14. PMID: 28228363

Alper BJ, Job G, Yadav RK, Shanker S, Lowe BR, Partridge JF.
EMBO J. 2013 Aug 28;32(17):2321-35. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2013.143. Epub 2013 Jun 14. PMID:23771057

Alper BJ, Schmidt WK.
Methods Mol Biol. 2013;984:263-73. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-296-4_19. PMID: 23386350

Kukday SS, Manandhar SP, Ludley MC, Burriss ME, Alper BJ, Schmidt WK.
J Biomol Screen. 2012 Dec;17(10):1348-61. doi: 10.1177/1087057112451921. Epub 2012 Jun 26. PMID:22740246

Alper BJ*, Lowe BR*, Partridge JF. Chromosome Res. 2012 Jul;20(5):521-34. doi: 10.1007/s10577-012-9288-x. Review. PMID:22733402 *Equal contribution

Noinaj N, Song ES, Bhasin S, Alper BJ, Schmidt WK, Hersh LB, Rodgers DW.
J Biol Chem. 2012 Jan 2;287(1):48-57. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.264614. Epub 2011 Nov 2.PMID:22049080

Alper BJ, Rowse JW, Schmidt WK.
Yeast. 2009 Nov;26(11):595-610. doi: 10.1002/yea.1709. PMID:19750477

Alper BJ, Schmidt WK.
J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Mar 30;178(1):40-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2008.11.010. Epub 2008 Nov 21.

Alper BJ, Nienow TE, Schmidt WK.
Biochem J. 2006 Aug 15;398(1):145-52. PMID:16722821



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We are always interested in hearing from prospective students, friends and collaborators. 
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