- Bachelor of Arts, Amherst College, 1997
- Doctor of Philosophy, California Institute of Technology, 2002
In his training, Dr. Belitsky had the opportunity to work with nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and proteins. Now his lab focuses on a class of biomolecules that have been far less explored by chemists – melanins, the pigments in human hair, skin, eyes, etc. While almost everyone has heard of melanin, it is not very well understood on a chemical level, despite having many fascinating chemical properties. We are particularly interested in the molecular recognition properties of melanins. Our lab uses a combination of organic synthesis, biochemical, environmental and materials chemistry approaches to study molecular recognition in the context of melanin’s biological roles and for non-biological applications. Water purification is one application that we are pursuing, taking advantage of the ability of melanin from natural sources and synthetic analogs to bind to heavy metals and organic pollutants.
Dr. Belitsky has recently returned to Oberlin after an exciting sabbatical at the University of Michigan, where he continued to work on melanins and returned to proteins and nucleic acids, in the context of gene expression and cancer.
Teaches: Bioorganic Chemistry, Biochemistry, General Chemistry, Chemical Biology seminar
- Belitsky, J.M. "Aryl boronic acid inhibition of synthetic melanin polymerization" Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters 2010, 20, 4475-4478.
- Sono, K.*; Lye, D.*; Moore, C.A.*; Boyd, W.C.*; Gorlin, T.A.*; Belitsky, J.M. “Melanin-based coatings as lead-binding agents” Bioinorganic Chemistry and Applications 2012, Article ID 361803.
- Belitsky, J.M.; Ellowitz, M.Z.*; Lye, D.*; Kilbo, A.L.* “Small molecule modulators of aggregation in synthetic melanin polymerizations” Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters 2012, 22, 5503-5507