Chrystal Starbird conducts her postdoctoral research at the Yale Cancer Biology Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Kathryn Ferguson. She studies mechanisms of activation in a unique sub-family of receptor tyrosine kinases that play a vital role in maintaining cellular homeostasis through the clearance of apoptotic cells and control of inflammatory and immune responses. Using a combination of biochemical, biophysical and structural studies, she asks questions about how these important receptors are activated and uses this information to better understand how their function may be altered in disease states.
Chrystal completed her PhD in the Quantitative Chemical Biology Training Program at Vanderbilt University in 2017, with a focus in structural biology and biochemistry. While there, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Tina Iverson on structure-based studies of mitochondrial respiratory enzyme assembly, and the structure-guided engineering of a pathway for synthesis of the antiviral therapy didanosine. Prior to this, she had extensive experience working in various science environments, including work in clinical science and industry. As a non-traditional student in many ways, Chrystal is passionate about increasing equity and accessibility in science. While at Vanderbilt she founded Vanderbilt Women in Science and Engineering (VU-WISE), a group focused on building community and support amongst women in science and their allies. She has continued similar work at Yale, as a co-founder of the Yale School of Medicine Black Postdoctoral Association.