Klaus Bonazza received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Vienna University of Technology. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital and appointed at Harvard Medical School, mentored by Dr. Timothy Springer. His field of interest is the ultra-large concatemeric protein von Willebrand factor (VWF), which accounts for the adaptability of hemostasis to different flow conditions in the blood vessels.
At moderate, physiological flow VWF has a packed, “bird nest’s” shape whereas strong elongational flow conditions, occurring downstream of vascular restrictions or injuries, induce a transition to a threat-like, elongated state. On top of this overall unpacking, tensile forces, which are exerted on the chain and transmitted by its A1 domain, cause local conformational changes which activate binding of thrombocyte receptor Glycoprotein Ib (GPIbα) to initiate coagulation. With his JGP fellowship award, Dr. Bonazza will pioneer a new method to obtain structural insights into force dependent VWF unpacking, A1 deformation and GPIbα binding based on hydrogendeuterium exchange under elongational flow conditions.