Postdoctoral Alumni - Andrew Paoletti
As he finished his Ph.D. in chemistry at Syracuse University, Andrew Paoletti decided he wanted a career in science that could change people’s lives. “I wanted to do something biologically important that had an application,” he says, having done thesis work on protein chemistry in a lab engaged in drug discovery aimed at HIV. “Something that would impact people in tangible ways.”
Paoletti spent the next 4 years in the Washburn lab learning mass spectrometry techniques used to identify proteins that make up massive complexes that activate gene expression. In much of that work he also collaborated with Stowers Investigators and transcription experts Joan and Ron Conaway.
Fresh from a chemistry background, Paoletti admits he initially knew little about biology or transcription. “My job was to purify and quantify a very large protein complex without knowing much about it,” says Paoletti, referring to the multi-subunit transcriptional activator known as Mediator. “In that sense, being naive was a good thing. It was like doing a triple-blind experiment.”
Among his Stowers accomplishments, 2006 Paoletti led a 2006 PNAS study with Washburn and the Conaways reporting quantitative analysis of Mediator complexes using a novel method to calculate exactly how abundant a single protein is within a multi-protein complex, a technique known as “spectral counting”.
By 2008, Paoletti completed his training and accepted a job a mass spectroscopist at St. Louis-based C2N Diagnostics, a company developing ways to test drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. In a statement bound to make Stowers founder and businessman Jim Stowers proud, Paoletti says that people at Stowers showed no bias if a postdoc chose a career in biotechnology over academia. “If you put in the effort, the time you spend at Stowers will benefit you whatever you want to do,” he says. “Whether it’s learning mass spec, how to design experiments, or asking the right questions and finding ways to answer them.”