Sheref S. Mansy completed his BS and PhD degrees from Ohio State University with JA Cowan and postdoctoral work at Harvard with JW Szostak. After winning a career development award from the Armenise-Harvard Foundation, he began his independent career at the University of Trento in Italy. In 2019 he moved to the University of Alberta. He is a Simons Investigator.
We explore the life-like chemistry that emerges from mixtures of prebiotically plausible molecules. In particular, we probe the metabolic-like chemistry of one of life’s most ancient cofactors, iron-sulfur clusters. The fact that life as we know it is completely reliant on metal ions likely reflects a primordial dependence on these natural catalysts. We also construct protocells, and investigate how the chemistry of iron-sulfur peptides could have helped sustain the existence of protocells. Students working with us have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of spectroscopic techniques, collaborate with scientists from disparate disciplines, and enjoy the challenge of trying to solve one of life’s greatest mysteries.