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Faculty Highlights: Paul Roepe, Ph.D. (Dept. of Chemistry)

Paul Roepe, Ph. D is a professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry at Georgetown. He received his Bachelors of Arts, Masters, and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Boston University. Dr. Roepe went on to complete his Postdoc at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology and Boston University. He became an assistant professor at Cornell, Virginia Polytech, and eventually a full-time undergraduate and medical school professor at Georgetown. 

Involvement in Research:

At Georgetown, Dr. Roepe researches the mechanisms behind drug resistance in hopes of translating this knowledge towards developing better drug therapies. Most examples of drug resistance involve defects in trans-membranous transport, ion transport, and cellular drug accumulation-- all of which are being examined with a molecular-based focus in his lab. The Roepe Lab has also recognized intriguing molecular similarities in drug resistance of tumors in bacteria and parasites; therefore, they are currently cloning antimalarial drug resistance proteins and other biomembrane active enzymes to study the processes behind drug resistance. Additionally, Dr. Roepe recognizes the importance of interdisciplinary research, so his lab uses various techniques such as recombinant DNA technology, synthetic chemistry, and biophysical techniques in their research. Furthermore, for many years, the Roepe Lab has worked with the NIH and many other top research institutions and takes pride in providing members of STEM underrepresented groups with opportunities to train and do research in the lab. 

Inspiration:

Dr. Roepe was inspired as an undergraduate student to become involved with multiple disciplines of scientific research. He used to spend his time in the library pouring over books that went way over his head, but it only made him more enthusiastic and excited to learn science. In college, Dr. Roepe needed a part-time job and ended up as a research assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and stayed for several years immersing himself in research. Later on, his mentor, who is a Nobel Laureate, introduced him to microbiology, chemistry, and biophysics, which were subjects he loved learning about. Eventually he had to choose what he wanted to research on and decided to research antimalaria drug resistance. Dr. Roepe went on to become a pioneer in this field. His research has impacted millions of kids all over the world and has reduced the number of deaths due to malaria.

Reflection:

Looking back at his journey, Dr. Roepe recognizes how crucial his mentors were in influencing his decisions and leading him to where he is today. He knows that he would not be where he is now without the generosity of all his mentors. Furthermore, he is proud of the overall value that it has brought to the scientific community and how it has improved the human condition-- something that he always aimed to do.

Advice for Students:

Dr. Roepe wants to remind all students to find what they are passionate about and chase their dreams. Although cliche, he truly believes that everyone should do what they love to do--no matter what it is. In particular, he encourages students to explore different areas of study and find their niche because that is what you will be doing for the rest of your life. 

Written by Christina Zhu