Pallav Kosuri uses a physics-inspired approach to discover fundamental mechanisms in biology. Pallav was born in Sweden and studied physics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. After a short stint at CERN, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University in New York. As a Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Julio M. Fernandez, Pallav co-invented an Atomic Force Microscope (US Patent 9,880,088) that can apply precisely calibrated forces to single protein molecules while measuring their mechanical response. Using this new microscope, he pioneered the use of mechanical force to study how disulfide bonds are formed during protein folding (Cell 2012).He also used this new microscope to investigate the molecular source of muscle elasticity and discovered a novel chemical mechanism for modulation of muscle stiffness (Cell 2014). After graduating, Pallav moved to Harvard University where he did a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Xiaowei Zhuang. At Harvard he invented ORBIT, a method that uses DNA origami to directly measure molecular rotation. Pallav used ORBIT to discover that RNA polymerase rotates in discrete ~35-degree steps during transcription (Nature 2019), and he is now building on this discovery to investigate transcriptional regulation at the single-molecule level.
As an Assistant Professor at the Salk Institute, Pallav leads a diverse team of researchers to investigate fundamental principles of function in biomechanical systems, ranging from molecular machines to muscles, and with a focus on the mammalian heart. His group takes a cross-disciplinary approach that relies on innovation in biophysical and computational methods and imaging techniques. As part of these efforts, he is pioneering the use of single-molecule microscopy to map the architecture of the heart. With these studies, his vision is to create a framework for understanding the connections between genetics, structure, and mechanical function of the human body.