The overall research goal of my group is to investigate the structure and function of human membrane proteins generally involved in cancer signaling, drug resistance and drug secretion. We focus on targets that are particularly promising for structure-based drug design. I have a background in both breadth and depth in membrane protein biochemistry, function and structure determination using electron microscopy and x-ray crystallography. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, I established the over-expression, purification and crystallization protocols of the first mammalian cancer drug transporter, P-glycoprotein. I solved the x-ray crystal structure of the high-affinity drug binding conformation of P-glycoprotein in the absence and presence of novel inhibitors. The structures provided the first direct evidence that the exact same drug molecule can occupy two completely distinct drug-binding sites within the large internal poly-specific drug-binding cavity. I began independent research in the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to investigate the structure and function of human membrane proteins involved in cancer drug resistance and even in Cystic Fibrosis. Within one year of joining the department, I have directed and guided new members of my laboratory to acquire sufficient preliminary data to secure pilot funding from the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance and the UAB CCC affiliate of the American Cancer Institute. I have recently been awarded an NIH Director’s Innovator Award that will allow us to accelerate our work on human membrane proteins specifically. In summary, I have a demonstrated record of successful and productive research projects in an area of high relevance for cancer biology and multi-drug resistance and my expertise and experience have prepared me to play an important role in ongoing research at UAB.
Dr. Stephen Aller received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University in 2006. He continued structural work on mammalian integral membrane proteins as a Ruth L. Kirstein NIH postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA. He Joined the faculty in August of 2009 and is a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. Dr. Aller is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at UAB.