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Research Biological

Biological Research

Graduate students in the Division meld molecular and structural biology with physical, organic and analytical chemistry to understand the molecular basis of biological processes and human disease. Research in the Biological Division focuses on the structure, stability and function of proteins, membranes, DNA, RNA, macromolecular complexes and viruses, natural product biogenesis, synthetic biology, and genomics.

Students are a constant source of new hypotheses for mechanisms underlying cellular machines like the ribosome, spliceosome, and as well as protein and RNA folding. Students tackle these problems using biochemical methods, chemical biosensor technologies, protein and nucleic acid crystallography, in vitro and in vivo evolution, multi-dimensional NMR spectroscopy, surface chemistry, atomic-force microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, and high-resolution mass spectrometry.

Doctoral students in our Divsion leave the Department broadly trained for leadership roles in academia and industry.

Recent Research Results

Microbial beta-glucuronidases drive human periodontal disease etiology

Here, we define the 53 unique GUSs in the human oral microbiome and examine diverse GUS orthologs from periodontitis-associated pathogens.

Properties of a tardigrade desiccation-tolerance protein aerogel

Here, we show that dried CAHS D gels (i.e., aerogels) retain the structural units of their hydrogels, but the details depend on prelyophilization CAHS concentrations.

Using NMR-detected hydrogen-deuterium exchange to quantify protein stability in cosolutes, under crowded conditions in vitro and in cells

We review the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to assess the exchange of amide protons for deuterons (HDX) in efforts to understand how high concentration of cosolutes, especially macromolecules, affect the equilibrium thermodynamics of protein stability. 

Representative Publications

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