Faculty Scholars

Faculty Scholar Mark Blenner, Ph.D. at  Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Mark Blenner, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Clemson University

Contact: 864-656-0290 or blenner@clemson.edu  

Who is Professor Blenner?

Mark Blenner received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Manhattan College, and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Columbia University. There, he studied conformational changes in proteins and peptides, with applications in environmental sensing and in vitro toxicity testing. Mark was an NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Immune Disease Institute, working with Dr. Timothy Springer engineering high affinity complexes involved in force sensing during blood clotting. He solved crystal structures of these engineered proteins to help explain how certain bonds increased in strength resulting from shear forces. Currently, Mark is an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Clemson University. His research group engineers proteins and enzymes for novel properties and high specificity. His group also is developing expertise in systems biology, and is interested in developing collaborations with health researchers to translate new technologies into the clinic.

How Professor Blenner's research is transforming health care

Improving Biologic Therapeutics: Biologic therapeutics requires high specificity, low off-target frequencies, and high stability. Thee properties are encoded into the sequence and structure of a protein; however, they have not understood these systems in enough detail to a priori design such therapeutics. To address this short-coming, the screening of mutants is required. His lab is pioneering methods that will enable highly efficient selection of novel properties, including targeting specificity. He is also developing novel antibody selection methods that utilize unusual post-translational modifications.

Improving Enzymes for Field Applications: Mark’s enzyme engineering work is aimed at making the use of enzymes more robust so that they can be deployed in field settings. His overall goal is to make enzymes less sensitive to environmental changes without sacrificing activity. This is accomplished through both rational and directed evolution methods. Applied to health, these more robust enzymes could serve field-deployable sensors or be used in harsh environments.

Health Research Expertise Keywords

Protein Engineering, Metabolic Engineering, Biopharmaceuticals, Antibodies, Microbiome, Genomics