Lien A. Phung

Lien Phung


Entering Class:


Brandeis University
Biochemistry, Biology, Economics majors
B.S., 2013
M.S., 2013

Honors and Awards:

  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Predoctoral MD/PhD Fellows, National Institute on Aging, 2017-2022

MSTP Student Governance: 

  • Student Admissions Committee, 2017-19

Thesis Advisor: David Thomas, PhD

Thesis Research:

Myosin has been a focus in the muscle field for a long time, yet there are still many major unanswered questions about this motor protein. One emerging focus is on the super-relaxed state (SRX) of myosin. It has been previously reported that the SRX is involved in resting skeletal muscle thermogenesis and in cardiac muscle contractility. Furthermore, there is evidence that estrogen affects these systems as well. I, therefore, am interested in establishing the structural and functional regulations of the SRX myosin with respect to estrogen. Using quantitative epifluorescence microscopy of fluorescent ATP, I examine the age and sex dependence of myosin ATPase activity in mice. I am also designing site-directed spectroscopic probes on myosin and other myofilament proteins in SRX fibers to help determine their changes in protein structures and dynamics in response to estrogen signaling. While SRX myosin has been elusive from recent attempts to characterize it, I hope to make significant progress in the field which will undoubtedly provide more insights to further studies of muscle diseases.


For work prior to joining the MSTP

Kerns SJ, Agafonov RV, Cho YJ, Pontiggia F, Otten R, Pachov DV, Kutter S, Phung LA, Murphy PN, Thai V, Alber T, Hagan MF, Kern D. The energy landscape of adenylate kinase during catalysis. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2015 Feb;22(2):124-31. PMCID: PMC4318763

Hass MA, Liu WM, Agafonov RV, Otten R, Phung LA, Schilder JT, Kern D, Ubbink M. A minor conformation of a lanthanide tag on adenylate kinase characterized by paramagnetic relaxation dispersion NMR spectroscopy. J Biomol NMR. 2015 Feb;61(2):123-36.