My research is focused on the structural characterization of higher-order chromatin on a genomic scale in order to elucidate the principles that underlie gene regulatory processes, such as gene transcription, replications, and cell differentiation. We have developed a computational model for generating a structural description of this highly ordered DNA by merging multiple datasets from a range of experimental methodologies, including chromosome conformation capture, life-cell imaging, electron microscopy, and a variety of other genomics-based technologies. Our work aims to bridge the gap between genome sequencing, gene regulation, and structural biology and provide insights to better understand many human diseases. A second line of research focuses on the development of methods for mapping the spatial arrangement of the proteome in cell cytoplasm at molecular resolution. Our work will reveal insights into the molecular organization of subcellular compartments and their dynamic changes during regulation of cellular processes.
As an Innovation Fund investigator, Alber is collaborating with Z. Hong Zhou, Ph.D., to map the location of unknown identities and structures of protein complexes in Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria. Their study combines expertise in structural and computational biology along with state-of-the-art imaging methodologies to overcome the challenge of spatially locating unknown protein complexes and to understand the functional significance of proteins in their native state. The pair will utilize cryo-electron tomography tools and mass spectrometry to uncover novel structures, distribution, and the identities of numerous macromolecules from P. falciparum cell extract. This large-scale proteomic approach has the potential to revolutionize the field of structural biology and further our understanding of malaria parasite biology.