Natural proteins evolved over millions of years to solve the most complex challenges on Earth, but we face new and pressing challenges today. The goal of the Institute for Protein Design is to create a new world of synthetic proteins to address these challenges.
To achieve this, we are marshaling deep institutional strengths in our faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students as well as our partners from collaborating institutions, innovator networks, and from the computer and biotechnology industries. We are bringing extraordinary expertise to bear on a singular focus to advance the potential of protein design.
What is protein design?
Proteins are the molecular machines that make all living things hum — they stop deadly infections, heal cells and capture energy from the sun. Yet because our basic understanding of how proteins work has until now remained a mystery, humans have only been able to harness the power of proteins by modifying ones we happen to find in nature.
Enabled by decades of basic research, the rise of inexpensive computing, and the genomics revolution in reading and writing DNA, we can now design new proteins from scratch with specific functions.
Our scientists have developed catalysts for chemical reactions, HIV and RSV vaccine candidates, and experimental therapies for diseases such as cancer and the flu.
Computer-generated molecules that block infection, capture toxins, reprogram cells, and more.
Highly stable and customizable vaccines for influenza, HIV, cancer, and beyond.
Advanced Drug Delivery
Nanoscale protein assemblies that move therapeutics and more to specific cells within the body.
Biomolecular modeling and computational design are at the heart of everything we do.
Programmable switches, sensors and machines that function inside cells.
Atomically precise materials with applications in solar energy, imaging and basic research.
Chemically synthesized molecules with predictable structures and functions.
We are headquartered in the Molecular & Nanoengineering and Sciences Buildings at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Antivirals for COVID-19
We have created potent antiviral proteins that keep the coronavirus from infecting human cells. These promising drugs are heading toward clinical trials.
Beyond the Institute
Treating Celiac disease
KumaMax is an enzyme designed to treat Celiac disease. Research on it began as an undergraduate project in the Baker Lab and would go on to form the basis of a spinout company. Now Takeda Pharmaceuticals is working to advance KumaMax into the clinic.
Computers are smart, but they sometimes miss important things because of the way they are programmed. The same goes for researchers. This is where Foldit comes in: everyday people playing Foldit can help discover better protein designs through their unique creativity and ingenuity.