Charles Craik, PhD

What I do

I focus on defining the roles and the mechanisms of enzymes in complex biological processes and on developing technologies to facilitate these studies to aid in the rapid detection, monitoring, and control of infectious disease and cancer.

My research expertise

Enzymology, Protein engineering, Chemical biology, Proteomics, Substrate specificity profiling, Probe development, Non invasive imaging, Proteases and their inhibitors, Infectious diseases, HIV, Herpes viruses, Parasites, Oncology


PhD, Chemistry, Columbia University, 1981
BS, Chemistry, Allegheny College, 1978
MA, Chemistry, Columbia University, 1978


My research focuses on structure-function analysis of proteases and their inhibitors. In my lab we use a combination of genetic, biochemical, and biophysical methods, with particular emphasis on identifying the roles and regulating the activity of proteases associated with infectious diseases, cancer, and development.

Proteases are directly or indirectly involved in virtually every biological function or dysfunction. The omnipresence of proteases and their natural inhibitors has placed them among the most studied proteins in biochemistry. The research efforts of the lab focus primarily on the structure-function analysis of proteases and their inhibitors using a combination of genetic, biochemical and biophysical methods. Chemical biological approaches are used or are being developed to study the substrate specificity, catalytic mechanism and biological role of proteases and their macromolecular inhibitors. The genes for serine (trypsin, serine collagenase, easter, prostate specific antigen, T-cell specific granzymes, MT-SP1 and 2, KSHV protease), cysteine (cruzain and falcipain) and aspartyl (HIV1 & HIV2 & SIV) proteases and macromolecular inhibitors such as ecotin and single chain antibodies are manipulated and expressed in heterologous expression systems. Targeted, region specific or random substitutions are introduced recombinantly to create variants that provide insight into the structure and activity of the target protein. A particular emphasis of our work is on identifying the roles and regulating the activity of proteases associated with infectious diseases, cancer and development. These studies are providing a better understanding of both the chemical make-up and the biological importance of these critical proteins. This in turn is leading to the development of strategies for regulating proteolytic activity as a means of therapeutic intervention. Further study of these proteins holds promise for better understanding, rapid detection and eventual control of infectious diseases and cancer.