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Amy K

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Dartmouth College


biochemistry, structural biology, microbiology, drug discovery, interdisciplinary research


My name is Amy Kennedy, and I'm a postdoc at Dartmouth College. My research focus is structure-based drug discovery using X-ray protein crystallography, NMR, and other biochemical assays to identify early-stage inhibitory molecules that bind to the IKK binding domain of NEMO. NEMO is an essential structural component of a key protein complex in the canonical NF-kB pathway, the IKK complex. The NF-kB pathway is involved in inflammation, cell survival and proliferation, and viral response, and becomes overactive in many cancers, autoimmune disorders, and asthma. By inhibiting formation of the IKK complex, NF-kB activation can be reduced, thereby lowering inflammatory signals and makes cancer cells more vulnerable to attack by the immune system, chemotherapeutic treatment, or radiation therapy. Outside the laboratory, I am a mom of two boys, 13 and 15, and enjoying hanging out with them watching TV or playing board games. In my free time I enjoy yoga, walking in nature, traveling, cooking, baking, music, reading, and petting my 4 cats.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

How many antidepressant medications have a known target and mode of binding?

With the recent release of a report indicating that depression may not be as related to serotonin levels as previously thought, many are reexamining what was once considered settled in the field of psychiatry. Many of the medications prescribed for depression are suspected to raise serotonin levels by preventing its reuptake at the synapse junction, however there are no X-ray crystal structures or other structural evidence to support this for most of the prescribed medications. This project will investigate the Protein Data Bank for structures of the top 20 most-prescribed FDA-approved antidepressant drugs in complex with their receptor targets and compare this with their published targets in the literature.

Harnessing biological mechanisms for sequestering carbon

Carbon sequestration is an increasingly urgent topic as the effects of anthropogenic climate change become more impactful. While humans are struggling to tackle the problem with technology, many organisms on the planet have evolved over millions of years to selectively filter, use, and store carbon. This project will investigate the various ways different organisms filter and sequester carbon and how these might be applied on a larger scale to address climate change.

Languages I know

German, beginner

Teaching experience

I taught writing to 5th through 8th grade students who were struggling with the subject as a teaching assistant at a church school. In undergrad, I was a teaching assistant for 3 years in the biology and chemistry departments. I have spent the last 3 years of my doctoral studies supervising undergraduate researchers starting in their freshman year as well as new graduate students.


Work experience

Avitide (2022 - 2022)
Project Intern


Southeastern Oklahoma State University
BS Bachelor of Science (2018)
Chemistry, Biology minor
Dartmouth College
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2023)
Biochemistry and Cell Biology

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