During my undergraduate and graduate studies with Igor Krasheninnikov at Moscow State University in former USSR, I became fascinated with how histones wrap the DNA into the compact structures called chromatin fibers and yet allow the genes contained inside the chromatin fibers to interact with many other proteins in the nucleus including DNA and RNA polymerases. Our studies back then were hindered by scarce funds and the “iron curtain”. Yet we were not afraid of challenging any cutting-edge question and paradigm. I became interested in mysterious N-tails of histones and how do they act to form chromatin higher-order structures including compact folding and tight bridging of chromatin fibers and changing DNA topology in small circular chromosomes. After PhD defense, I remained at Moscow State as a research scientist where I and my group discovered and isolated MENT, the first developmentally regulated nonhistone chromatin-condensing protein. After I came to the United States, I did a postdoctoral training with Alex Varshavsky at Caltech where I studied ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis. This training equipped me with new molecular genetic tools to study chromatin including its regulation by proteolytic enzymes and their inhibitors. Later on, when I worked first at University of Massachusetts in close collaboration with Chris Woodcock, and then at my own laboratory at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, we were able to extensively characterize chromatin higher-order structures using molecular, biochemical, and EM techniques. Our current research is focused on the several aspects of chromatin higher order folding and its remodeling associated with cell differentiation and cancer.
In addition to scientific endeavors, I am actively involved in lecturing in medical and graduate courses as well as graduate and undergraduate training in the lab. I try to spend the remaining spare time on skiing, SCUBA diving, kayaking, and traveling to see my family and friends scattered around the globe.