Igor Dikiy, PhD, Class 2
High School: Collegiate School
Undergraduate: Princeton University
Graduate: Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences
Igor Dikiy, PhD, Class 2 was recently selected as a finalist for the Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists in Chemistry for his work during his postdoc at CUNY.
What have you been up to lately?
During my senior year of undergrad, I did a senior thesis research project that got me really interested in biochemistry – how different chemical properties and reactions control biological processes. I was trying to make a synthetic version of an antimicrobial lasso peptide – a small protein molecule that some bacteria make to kill other bacteria. Even though I didn’t succeed in making an active version of the peptide, I was really hooked on biochemistry and decided to go get my PhD in that field at Weill Cornell (it also didn’t hurt that it was in NYC). For my PhD I worked on a protein in the brain that’s involved in Parkinson’s disease, known as alpha-synuclein. One of the weird things about this protein is that it has no stable structure like most proteins, so I was trying to figure out whether that has anything to do with what its normal function is or what goes wrong in the disease. After I got my PhD, I decided to do postdoctoral research at the new CUNY Advanced Science Research Center. Being a postdoc allows me to gain a little bit of scientific independence while still working with an established scientist as a mentor. It’s kind of like a scientific internship on the path to getting your own lab. Right now I am working on different kinds of receptor proteins – they sense different stimuli in the environment and tell the cell how to respond – in bacteria and humans. My long-term goal is to start my own lab that studies how bacteria sense and respond to the environment and how that signal is passed into the cell on the molecular scale.
Favorite Memory at TEAK:
I remember riding to the Summer Institute with Chris Gogos and Tiffany Wang, the “Um game” in Summer Institute, being very bad at STEP with Carl and drumming with Jacques, working at the Hayden Planetarium with Manny Schwimmer, Culture at TEAK on Saturdays, and getting my first few ties from the TEAK Closet. I also remember visiting the Princeton Campus with my whole class, including my TEAK Mentor Daniel Fine, and Melissa Wu. I think CATS is my favorite memory, but they’re all great.
Advice for current TEAK Fellows:
Try to find mentors at every stage of your life or career – there are many people who are willing and eager to help those coming up behind them with problems that they also faced, so try to find those people and take advantage of their experiences.
Is it alright for Fellows to contact you?