Dr. John Burke

Dr. John Burke
Biochemistry and Microbiology

BSc (UC Berkeley), PhD (UC San Diego)

Area of expertise

Cancer and immunology, proteomics and metabolomics, host microbe interactions, structural biology, health and aging.

Research interests

 The unifying objective of my research program is to provide molecular insight into relevant biological processes that apply to human health, primarily as they relate to infectious disease, aging and cancer. The major focus is on the study of lipid signalling pathways, and how they can be misregulated in disease. This work has both basic and applied science foci, and critical to its success is extensive collaborations with academic and biopharmaceutical groups in the development of potential therapeutics.

The work is approached using a cutting edge synergy of advanced biochemical and biophysical methods, including Cryo Electron Microscopy, X-ray crystallography, hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry, and detailed biochemical analysis of membrane reconstituted lipid signalling complexes. This work has four inter-related themes:

1) Understanding how phosphoinositide signalling is involved in viral and parasitic infections

2) Understanding how phosphoinositide signalling is involved in healthy aging, and how its misregulation can lead to cancer initiation and progression

3) Using a structural biology based approach to develop novel small molecule therapeutics in cancer, malaria, and viral infection

4) Developing cutting-edge mass spectrometry HDX-MS methods to study the conformational dynamics of proteins and their role in human health


Our ultimate goal is to define exactly at the molecular level how these signalling pathways can be misregulated in disease, and in collaboration with both academic and industrial partners develop therapeutics. Critical to this work is the training of the next generation of scientists, and students  working in my group acquire extensive skills in molecular biology, structural biology, mass spectrometry, and protein biochemistry that are in high demand in the biotech/pharma sector.

Learn more about the research in this YouTube video.