Antonina grew up surrounded by science and music. After completing her baccalaureate in Mathematics and Physics she studied engineering at Cooper Union in New York City. She fell in love with structural biology after attending a seminar on protein structures at the New York Academy of Science. She enrolled as a graduate student at Rockefeller University to pursue her interest in protein structure and function. She became fascinated by the intricate choreography of the ribosome as it prepares to start protein synthesis and studied this process as a NSF graduate fellow in the lab of Stephen Burley. Her work shed light on the structure and mechanism of the two GTPases, eIF2 and eIF5B, which are involved in delivering the initiator Met-tRNA on the ribosome and facilitating the joining of the small and large ribosomal subunits to commence translation of the mRNA. As she was nearing the end of her Ph.D. she decided that in order to understand protein function she needed to complement her structural biology skills with methods that capture protein dynamics in isolation as well as in the more complex environment of the cell. She decided to join Ron Vale’s lab at UCSF where she was a Damon Runyon fellow and then a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award recipient. While there, she identified spastin as a novel microtubule severing enzyme and used hybrid structural biology methods and light microscopy to shed light on its mechanism of action. Combining her interdisciplinary skills she started her own lab at the National Institutes of Health (NINDS with a joint appointment at NHLBI) focused on the tubulin code. Her lab is deciphering the molecular and cellular mechanism of action of the tubulin code using tools from biophysics, X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, proteomics, cell biology, high-resolution light microscopy and modeling. She has assembled a diverse team of scientists who draw from the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics.
Education and Training
Awards and Funding
NIH Director's Innovation Challenge Award (2022-2024)