Osman Bilsel

University of Massachusetts Medical School

Osman is currently in the Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Department at UMass Medical School. He is a physical chemist interested in understanding the energy landscape of proteins, especially as it relates to human disease. He started as a chemistry and physics major in college, getting my first taste of research in gravitational physics (which involved a summer at Fermilab). Osman went to grad school in physical chemistry, working with Dewey Holten at Washington University in St. Louis on the electronic structure of strongly coupled porphyrin pi systems. The goal of the research was to understand these systems as models of the special pair in photosynthetic reaction centers. The work involved femtosecond pump probe spectroscopy and theory. After grad school he went to the James Franck Institute at The University of Chicago to work with Don Levy on high resolution laser induced fluorescence spectroscopy in the gas phase using supersonic jets. He later joined Bob Matthews’ group at Penn State to study protein folding.

Osman has worked with Bob and Jill Zitzewitz for approximately two decades, embarking on many projects together both at Penn State and at UMass Med School. The move to UMass allowed him to build what is commonly referred to as “the laserlab” with the purchase of the Ti:sapphire system and harmonic generation optics. This led to their work in time-resolved fluorescence, trFRET, FCS and microfluidic microsecond mixing. The laserlab has continued to grow and now houses a custom single-molecule microscope and a 2-photon microscope for long term live cell imaging. Osman’s current efforts are focused on live-cell microscopy and in using electron microscopy to probe SOD1 oligomerization.