New faculty: Jennifer Newell-Caito
The College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture brought a wealth of experience and expertise to its community when it welcomed new faculty this fall. Over the next few months we will feature new faculty to help you get acquainted with these new members of our community.
Please join us in welcoming Jennifer Newell-Caito to the Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences!
PhD in Biochemistry, University of Rochester
My specialty is defining the complex protein interactions that occur during snake envenomation of humans. Specifically, I am interested in the way that Australian Elapid snake venom proteins usurp the human blood coagulation network to cause havoc. The ultimate goal is to advance the current knowledge of the blood coagulation network and contribute in the development of new treatments for hemophilic and thrombotic disorders.
When did you discover a passion for your specialty?
I have been entranced with protein biochemistry since I was first introduced to the topic in undergraduate biochemistry. You could say that it was love at first sight. I pursued this passion by studying the proteins involved in blood coagulation in graduate school. I didn’t become a snake lover until my post-doctoral research project at Vanderbilt University. It was there that I decided to focus my research on the understanding of snake envenomation in humans. Something I would love to share about my topic is that our human blood coagulation network is intricately and beautifully balanced. The Australian tiger snake has evolved to be an efficient killer by hijacking the blood coagulation network in order to kill its prey. We still don’t know the many ways that these proteins interact in the blood, but what we do know is that they are an untapped resource for potential human therapeutics.
UMaine and the state of Maine offered an amazing opportunity for me. UMaine has a student-centered focus, which has always been my approach to education. It is a community that values service and students, and it is a place I am proud to work. Furthermore, this job has allowed me to do two things that I love: work with students in the classroom and in the lab. Having grown up in Freeport, I have always called Maine home. I am excited to back living in this beautiful state.
What do you look forward to in the coming year?
I am looking forward to getting to know my students and being a part of the UMaine community. Go Black Bears!