Texas Tech University

Dr. Raheleh Ravanfar


Title: Assistant Professor

Education: Ph.D., Cornell University, 2019
M.S., Ball State University, 2016
M.S., Shiraz University, 2012
B.S., Shiraz University, 2009

Biography:Raheleh Ravanfar joined Texas Tech University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in August 2023. She served as a postdoctoral scholar research associate in the Harry B. Gray Research Group at the California Institute of Technology from 2020 to 2023. She completed her Ph.D. degree in the Alireza Abbaspourrad Research Group at Cornell University in 2019. In 2016, she obtained her M.S degree in Robert Sammelson Research Group at Ball State University. She also earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Shiraz University in 2009 and 2012, respectively. She is a recipient of the Cornell Technology Acceleration and Maturation (CTAM) Fund Award, Deep Graduate Excellence Award, "Think Like a Molecule" Award of the American Chemical Society (ACS), The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Award, and the Turkiye Burslari Merit Scholarship Award.

Research Area: Bioinorganic Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Biophysics and Molecular Pharmaceutics

Office: ESB II 402A

Phone: 806-834-6129

Email: raheleh.ravanfar@ttu.edu

Webpages:  ORCID

Welcome to the Ravanfar Research Group, where our mission is to explore the intricate mechanisms of proteins and craft tailored solutions for the diseases connected to these vital components of life. Our endeavors are centered around core research domains that collectively contribute to achieving our overarching goal: bioinorganic chemistry, soft matter chemistry, spectroscopy, and biology. Together, our highly interdisciplinary team aims to illuminate the uncharted territories of scientific inquiry and carve out transformative pathways for the future. Below are several research topics that our group explores:

1. Delving into the Synergy: Unraveling the Interplay of Cytochrome P450s in Gut and Brain Function
Cytochrome P450s play pivotal roles in both local and systemic drug metabolism, as well as in maintaining physiological homeostasis. By deciphering the mechanisms governing their crosstalk, we aim to illuminate how their functions align and potentially influence each other. This endeavor holds the promise of unveiling novel insights into drug efficacy, drug-drug interactions, and overall physiological responses. Through interdisciplinary investigations, we aspire to uncover how these cytochrome P450s synergistically organize their actions within the gut and brain, these two crucial anatomical domains.

2. Molecular Mechanism of Heme-Containing Enzymes, with Emphasis on Cytochrome P450s
The realm of Cytochrome P450s encompasses a superfamily of proteins orchestrating an array of monooxygenase reactions within animals, plants, and bacteria. Notably, in humans, these proteins assume dual roles: arranging essential reactions for the metabolism of endogenous compounds while equally pivotal in the oxidation of exogenous drugs and other foreign substances. This protein family predominantly inhabits cellular membranes, particularly the endoplasmic reticulum or the mitochondrial membrane, furnishing an ideal platform for interactions with their redox counterparts and fellow P450s. Our research focuses on elucidating the inherent self-protective mechanism of human membrane cytochrome P450s against oxidative damage, particularly in scenarios where full substrate oxidation is not achieved.

3. Targeted Delivery and Controlled Release
We are dedicated to pioneering advancements in the field of targeted delivery and controlled release. These critical areas hold immense potential for revolutionizing drug delivery strategies. Our focus lies in fabricating highly sophisticated scaffolds with precise and controllable architectures that facilitate the targeted release of therapeutic agents. Through innovative techniques such as co-crystallization, metal–organic frameworks and drop-based microfluidics, we develop bioresponsive platforms that are finely tuned to specific stimuli, such as enzymes. By harnessing these cutting-edge technologies, we aim to unlock new avenues for enhanced drug efficacy, reduced side effects, and improved patient outcomes. Our commitment to pushing the boundaries of targeted delivery and controlled release aligns seamlessly with our overarching mission to advance scientific knowledge and contribute to transformative breakthroughs in healthcare.

Representative Publications

  1. Ravanfar R, Sheng Y, Gray HB, Winkler JR. Tryptophan-96 in cytochrome P450 BM3 plays a key role in enzyme survival. FEBS Lett. 2023 Jan;597(1):59-64. PubMed Central ID: PMC9839481.
  2. Ravanfar R, Sheng Y, Shahgholi M, Lomenick B, Jones J, Chou TF, Gray HB, Winkler JR. Surface cysteines could protect the SARS-CoV-2 main protease from oxidative damage. J Inorg Biochem. 2022 Sep;234:111886. PubMed Central ID: PMC9161685.
  3. Morales M, Ravanfar R, Oyala PH, Gray HB, Winkler JR. Copper(II) Binding to the Intrinsically Disordered C-Terminal Peptide of SARS-CoV-2 Virulence Factor Nsp1. Inorg Chem. 2022 Jun 20;61(24):8992-8996. PubMed Central ID: PMC9195567.
  4. Ravanfar R, Abbaspourrad A. Monitoring the heme iron state in horseradish peroxidase to detect ultratrace amounts of hydrogen peroxide in alcohols. RSC Adv. 2021 Mar 5;11(17):9901-9910. PubMed Central ID: PMC8695524.
  5. Ravanfar R, Abbaspourrad A. The molecular mechanism of the photocatalytic oxidation reactions by horseradish peroxidase in the presence of histidine. Green Chemistry. 2020; 22(18):6105-6114.
  6. Ravanfar R, Bayles C, Abbaspourrad A. Structural chemistry enables fluorescence of amino acids in the crystalline solid state. Crystal Growth & Design. 2020; 20(3):1673-1680. 1528-7483
  7. Ravanfar R, Abbaspourrad A. l-Histidine Crystals as Efficient Vehicles to Deliver Hydrophobic Molecules. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2019 Oct 23;11(42):39376-39384. PubMed ID: 31580056.
  8. Lee MC, Tan C, Ravanfar R, Abbaspourrad A. Ultrastable Water-in-Oil High Internal Phase Emulsions Featuring Interfacial and Biphasic Network Stabilization. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2019 Jul 24;11(29):26433-26441. PubMed ID: 31245993.
  9. Ravanfar R, Celli GB, Abbaspourrad A. Controlling the Release from Enzyme-Responsive Microcapsules with a Smart Natural Shell. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2018 Feb 14;10(6):6046-6053. PubMed ID: 29356494.

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Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

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