We have developed machine learning methods to predict functional information about newly discovered proteins. I am eager to apply new AI techniques to enzyme engineering and drug discovery.

– Mary Jo Ondrechen, Affiliate Faculty, EAI

Mary Jo Ondrechen, Ph.D. is a professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and principal investigator of the Ondrechen Research Group (The O.R.G.) at Northeastern University. 

Her research focuses on  understanding enzyme catalysis, inventing methods to predict the function of proteins from structure, developing design principles for novel enzymes, and structure-based drug discovery. Additionally, Ondrechen’s current projects include but are not limited to  using machine learning for functional genomics, understanding how coupled amino acids contribute to enzyme catalysis, and studying SARS-CoV-2 protein targets. 

A member of Mohawk Nation and an advocate for STEM diversity, she was the 2011-2013 Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). Ondrechen is also a co-PI on the 2014-2024 AISES project “Lighting the Pathway to Faculty Careers for Natives in STEM,” an initiative to provide guidance and support to Native STEM students who want to become faculty members at colleges, universities, and tribal colleges. 

In 2021,  she was on sabbatical leave as a Fulbright Faculty Research Fellow at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, performing research on a cancer-associated kinase (a type of enzyme that adds chemical phosphates to other molecules, such as sugars or proteins). An acknowledged leader in her field, Ondrechen has been working on the development of computational methods to study the functionality of enzymes for at least 20 years.