Ph.D. Chemistry, MIT
Postdoc, Harvard Medical School
Mo was born in Iran and grew up in Germany and Australia before entering Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) for his undergraduate studies. There he obtained a 4-year combined B.S./M.S. degree in Biochemistry with highest honors. His undergraduate thesis was carried out in the laboratory of Prof. Lizbeth Hedstrom on the chemical mechanism of inosine-5′-monophosphate dehydrogenase, an important target of immunosuppressive drugs. Mo carried out his graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry at MIT under the guidance of Prof. JoAnne Stubbe. His PhD thesis combined methods for site-specific incorporation of unnatural amino acids with rapid kinetic and spectroscopic techniques in order to examine the mechanism of ribonucleotide reductase, an essential metalloenzyme in all living cells. These studies revealed an unprecedented pathway and mechanism for long-range proton-coupled electron transfer catalyzed by transient amino acid radicals. He then joined the labs of Prof. Jon Clardy and Prof. Roberto Kolter as a Novartis LSRF postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, where he examined the roles of small molecules in mediating microbial interspecies interactions. This work led to the discovery of a novel family of phytotoxins as well as to new approaches for prospecting for bioactive small molecules. In January 2013, Mo started as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton University. His lab is interested in the discovery, structure, function, and biosynthesis of new small molecules with bioactive or therapeutic properties. These studies blend approaches from microbiology, bacterial genetics, small molecule chemistry, biochemistry, and mechanistic enzymology. Mo also holds appointments in the Department of Molecular Biology, the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Mo has been the recipient of the Novartis Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellowship, the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), the Searle Scholars Award, the Pew Biomedical Scholars Awards, and co-recipient of the Princeton Environmental Institute’s Innovative Research Award. He recently received the Princeton Intellectual Property Accelerator Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the Burroughs Wellcome (PATH) Investigator Award, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, as well as the American Chemical Society’s Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry.