Dr. Trempe’s research interests are in the structure and function of proteins implicated in Parkinson’s disease (PD), parkin and PINK1 in particular. The goal is to understand how these proteins protect neurons, and how they are inactivated in PD. These proteins have been shown to mediate mitochondrial quality control through their enzymatic activities and post-translational modifications: PINK1 phosphorylates ubiquitin, which in turn switches on parkin’s E3 ubiquitin ligase activity. Objectives are: 1) to elucidate their mechanism of action through structural studies 2) to develop novel therapies for PD based on these structures. The approach consists of deciphering the structural code of these proteins using data from a wide-range of sophisticated techniques such as X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry. These structures could be used as scaffolds for designing new drugs with enhanced activity, which could help slow down or even stop the degeneration of neurons causing PD.