Dr. Kavita M. Jeerage received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota (1996) and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington (2001). Her dissertation research with Professor Daniel T. Schwartz investigated electrochemically-controlled transition metal hexacyanoferrates for sequestering radiocesium and focused on determining alkali cation partitioning as a function of metal oxidation state. During several postdoctoral appointments, Dr. Jeerage continued to investigate electrochemical materials, sensors, and microfluidic actuation devices, one of which was patented in 2012. She joined NIST in 2006 and has worked on diverse projects in nanoparticle metrology and neurotoxicology. Dr. Jeerage is currently focused on determining the partitioning of drug analogues into fluid and solid phases by chromatography and the activation of membrane-bound receptors by endogenous and exogenous compounds, such as cannabinoids. She also manages the Cell Culture Facility. When she is not at the lab bench, Dr. Jeerage enjoys outdoor adventures with her husband, daughter, and dogs, discussions with her book club, and expanding her native plant garden.
Contribution of Functional Groups to Partitioning:
Partitioning describes the distribution of a chemical between two phases such as air and adsorbent (for example in air quality monitoring) or air and blood (for example in breath analysis of blood alcohol levels). Partition coefficients for specific phases of interest can be determined empirically or estimated from previously measured partition coefficients, such as octanol-air or octanol-water. At NIST we are interested in understanding the contribution of the functional groups found in complex molecules, such as drugs, to their partitioning behavior, with the ultimate goal of property calculation from structure. Partition coefficients can be determined from isothermal measurements of retention on a chromatographic stationary phase, relative to an inert mobile phase. Fundamental measurements of partitioning provide information for the development of field-ready detection devices.
Activation and Deactivation of Cannabinoid Receptors:
Humans, and indeed all mammals, possess an endocannabinoid system, which modulates physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. Endogenous cannabinoids such as anandamide exert their influence by binding to cannabinoid receptors, large proteins which are expressed on the cell membrane. Cannabinoid Receptor 1 (CB1) is found primarily in cells of the nervous system whereas Cannabinoid Receptor 2 (CB2) is found primarily in cells of the immune system. Phytocannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and synthetic cannabinoids can bind to cannabinoid receptors, displacing endocannabinoids due to their higher binding affinity (smaller dissociation constant). At NIST we are developing methods to quantify the binding of natural and synthetic cannabinoids by saturation transfer difference (STD) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. This method can detect the interactions of small ligands with large proteins, can provide quantitative information (e.g. binding isotherms and dissociation constants), and is well suited to measuring competitive or synergistic effects. Fundamental measurements of binding affinity provide information for medical research and law enforcement.
NIST Safety Award (2013)
National Academies / National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (2006)