The Nelson lab will develop artificial systems that can catalyze chemical reactions in response to gene activation inside cells. Our long-term goal is to design catalysts that can operate within the body to synthesize specific drugs when and where they are needed. To provide the first steps for achieving this goal, our group studies the interactions of nucleic acids with catalytically active transition metals. In a preliminary study, our lab has demonstrated that transition metal-controlled abiotic chemical reactions can be achieved under physiological conditions and in response to inherently biological signaling. Now, using techniques in organic chemistry, enzymology, and synthetic and molecular biology, we will produce and optimize a range of similar catalysts for applications in biomedical science. While our long-term objectives are innovative treatment for disease, immediate applications of this technology will also include sensors and diagnostics.