Joseph, Simpson
Molecular Mechanism of Protein Synthesis

Contact Information
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Office: Urey Hall 4102
Phone: 858-822-2957
Group: View group members
1994 Ph.D., University of Vermont
1989 M.S., Madurai Kamaraj University
1987 B.S., Loyola College
Awards and Academic Honors
Hellman Faculty Fellow
American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow
Postdoctoral Associate, University of California, Santa Cruz,
Department of Biotechnology Merit Scholarship
Recipient of Loyola College Gold Medal
Recipient of Loyola College Gold Medal
Recipient of Loyola College Gold Medal
Research Interests
We study how cells make proteins, which is a fundamental process for life. Ribosomes are the machines responsible for protein synthesis in all cells. Ribosomes accurately "read" the genetic information in mRNAs to assemble all the proteins required by the cell. Ribosomes are large macromolecular complexes made up of RNA and protein. The process of protein synthesis is very complex and highly regulated in eukaryotic cells.

Currently we are focusing on three research areas:

First, we are studying how the different steps in bacterial protein synthesis are catalyzed by the ribosome and several translational factors. This will provide insights for developing new antibiotics to treat drug-resistrant bacterial infections.

Second, we are studying the mechanism of translational control by the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP). Fragile X Syndrome is the most common form of mental retardation. We are interested in understanding how FMRP regulates the synthesis of numerous proteins in the nervous system.

Third, we are studying the mechanism used by the influenza virus to enhance the translation of viral mRNAs. Previous studies have shown that influenza virus infection blocks the transport and translation of host mRNAs, whereas viral mRNAs are translated efficiently. We are interested in understanding the protein-protein and protein-RNA interactions that are important for this process. These studies may provide insights for developing new anti-viral agents to treat flu.
Primary Research Area
Interdisciplinary interests
Macromolecular Structure
Cellular Biochemistry

Outreach Activities
Actively participate as a mentor to several minority undergraduate students from the Minority Access to Science, Engineering, and Math (MASEM) program funded by the NSF Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP).

Mentor to students as sponsored by the Summer Training Academy for Research in the Sciences (STARS) program of the NIH and the NSF.

Mentor to USD McNair Scholars program funded by the US Congress.

Member of the UCSD Next Step Program.

Participate in the Ambassadors of Academic Achievement (A3) Program.

Invited Lecturer, “Molecular Mechanism of Protein Synthesis by the Ribosome,” UniversityLink Medical Science Program (ULMSP) sponsored by the UCSD School of Medicine and the US Bureau of Health Professions. ULMSP's mission is to meet diversity healthcare workforce needs by supporting San Diego community college students during their transition to a four-year university.

Selected Publications