PhD Student

Bachelor of Science in Biophysics, Brigham Young University, 2019

David Kastner is a Ph.D. candidate in Bioengineering at MIT. His research focuses on using computational methods to further drug and material design of novel molecules with unique properties. He is also a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, an Alfred P. Sloan 2017-18 Scholar, and a National Barry Goldwater Scholarship recipient. David received a Bachelor of Science in Biophysics, Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University and was chosen to give the commencement speech for his graduating class.


  • Del Rio Flores, A.; Kastner, D. W.; Du, Y.; Narayanamoorthy, M.; Shen, Y.; Cai, W.; Vennelakanti, V.; Zill, N. A.; Dell, L. B.; Zhai, R.; Kulik, H. J.; Zhang, W., Probing the Mechanism of Isonitrile Formation by a Non-Heme Iron(II)-Dependent Oxidase/Decarboxylase. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2022, 144 (13), 5893-5901. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c12891.

  • Lo, C. C. L.; Joaquin, D.; Moyá, D. A.; Ramos, A.; Kastner, D. W.; White, S. M.; Christensen, B. L.; Naglich, J. G.; Degnen, W. J.; Castle, S. L., Synthesis and Evaluation of Potent Yaku’amide A Analogs. Chemical Science 2022, 13 (7), 1899-1905. DOI: 10.1039/D1SC05992K.

  • Nandy, A.; Terrones, G.; Arunachalam, N.; Duan, C.; Kastner, D. W.; Kulik, H. J., MOFSimplify, Machine Learning Models with Extracted Stability Data of Three Thousand Metal–organic Frameworks. Scientific Data 2022, 9 (1), 74. DOI: 10.1038/s41597-022-01181-0.

  • Olsen, R. R.; Ireland, A. S.; Kastner, D. W.; Groves, S. M.; Spainhower, K. B.; Pozo, K.; Kelenis, D. P.; Whitney, C. P.; Guthrie, M. R.; Wait, S. J.; Soltero, D.; Witt, B. L.; Quaranta, V.; Johnson, J. E.; Oliver, T. G., ASCL1 Represses a SOX9(+) Neural Crest Stem-like State in Small Cell Lung Cancer. Genes & Development 2021, 35 (11-12), 847-869. DOI: 10.1101/gad.348295.121.

  • Ireland, A.S.; Micinski, A.M.; Kastner, D.W.; Guo, B.; Wait, S.J.; Spainhower, K.B.; Conley, C.C.; Chen, O.S.; Guthrie, M.R.; Soltero, D.; Qiao, Y.; Huang, X.; Tarapcsak, S.; Devarakonda, S.; Chalishazar, M.D.; Gertz, J.; Moser, J.C.; Marth, G.; Puri, S.; Witt, B.L.; Spike, B.T.; Oliver, T.G. MYC Drives Temporal Evolution of Small Cell Lung Cancer Suntypes by Reprogramming Neuroendocrine Fate. Cancer Cell 2020, 1 (38), 60-78. DOI: 10.1016/j.ccell.2020.05.001.
  • Joaquin, D.; Lee, M. A.; Kastner, D. W.; Singh, J.; Morrill, S. T.; Damstedt, G.; Castle, S. L. Impact of Dehydroamino Acids on the Structure and Stability of Incipient 310-Helical Peptides. The Journal of Organic Chemistry 2020, 3 (85), 1601-1613. DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.9b02747.
  • Morris, D.L.; Kastner, D.W.; Johnson, S.; Strub, M.; He, Y.; Bleck, C.K.; Lee, D.; Tjandra, N.; Humanin induces conformational changes in the apoptosis regulator BAX and sequesters it into fibers, preventing mitochondrial outer-membrane permeabilization. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2019, 50 (294), 19055-19065. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.ra119.0112977.
  • Ashraf, N.M., Krishnagopal, A., Hussain, A,. Kastner, D.W., Sayed, A.M., Mol Y.K., Swaminathan. K., Zeeshan, N. Engineering of serine protease for improved thermostability and catalytic activity using rational design. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 2018, 126, 229-236. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.12.218.
  • Jalan, A.; Kastner, D.W.; Webber, K.G. I.; Smith, M.S.; Price, J.L.; Castle, S.L. Bulky dehydroamino acids enhance proteolytic stability and folding in β-hairpin peptides. Organic Letters 2017, 19 (19), 5190-5193. DOI: 10.1021/acs.orglett.7b02455.
  • Ashraf, N.M.; Imran, K.; Kastner, D.W.; Ikram, K.; Mushtaq, A.; Hussain, A.; Zeeshan, N. Potential involvement of mi-RNA 574-3p in progression of prostate cancer: A bioinformatic study. Molecular and Cellular Probes 2017, 36, 21-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.mcp.2017.07.002.


  • MIT Vice Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Fellowship – 2020
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) – 2019
  • National President’s Volunteer Service Award – 2018
  • National Barry Goldwater Scholarship – 2017
  • National American Chemical Society Scholars Award (ACS) – 2017
  • Simmons Center for Cancer Research Fellow (SCCR) – 2017
  • Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Community Service Award – 2018