John Cavanagh, Chair
In the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, we study a broad range of cellular activities, from the signals that stimulate cancer cells to grow, to the machinery that powers muscle contraction, to the specialization of cell types for animal reproduction, to the way tissues store fat for energy supply. Our research explores the functional attributes of DNA, mRNA, proteins and lipid membranes. Like all biologists, we attempt to correlate structure with function, but at a molecular level of detail, including the chemical reactions involved.
The field of biochemistry brings together the areas of molecular genetics, cell biology, and biophysics. Each of these headings can be further subdivided into the classical areas of enzymology, metabolism, bioenergetics, structure and function of nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.
Department faculty provide students and postdoctoral fellows with a research experience aimed at understanding fundamental mechanisms of cellular processes. The advances of the next decade will rely on a blend of structural biology, molecular biology and molecular genetic techniques. We integrate these methods to research topics that span from regulation of gene expression and chromatin structure, to cell signaling, cell cycle control, mRNA, and protein structure and function, and receptor-ligand or enzyme-substrate kinetics. We utilize prokaryotic, nematode, and mammalian model organisms and employ advanced genomics, proteomics, and microscopy instrumentation.