Ferra Pinnock

Ferra Pinnock Ferra Pinnock, Cornell University, PhD candidate

Ph.D. Candidate

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Research Assistant





My project aims to develop a flexible and automated method for synthesizing therapeutic glycolipids, particularly ganglioside GM1. Mouse models of Huntington’s Disease have highlighted the therapeutic function of GM1 in alleviating disease symptoms and hindering disease progression. However, its limited availability as a natural and synthetic compound has prevented its use in clinical trials. I am leveraging our lab’s expertise in microfluidics and supported lipid bilayer technology, in combination with tethered enzyme techniques, to mimic the mechanism and membrane environment used by cells to naturally generate GM1. In so doing, I can bypass many of the synthetic challenges encountered in traditional carbohydrate synthesis while still avoiding the pitfalls of tissue extraction and cell culture.  



Professional Development

As part of my professional development, I am involved in multiple student organizations in the CBE department and across Cornell’s Campus. I serve on the boards of the CBE Graduate Women’s Group and the CBE Diversity and Inclusion Program. I am a graduate mentor for DPE’s CU EMpower program and will serve as Graduate Resident Fellow for Cornell’s West Campus Housing system starting in Fall 2019. These activities have nurtured my passion for mentoring, teaching and promoting equity in STEM education and have ultimately inspired me to consider a career in academia.



Fun Facts

Outside of the lab, I am a full-time consumer of all things mafia. When I’m not off gallivanting in world of fictional organized crime, you can find me listening to the latest Soca and dancehall hits, indulging in re-runs of my favorite podcasts, or struggling to be a “good” vegan.