Areas of Research

Structural Biology

In basic research in human health and disease, structural biology has a key and central role.  Beautiful pictures of the structures of proteins, DNA, and RNA appear frequently on the covers and in the pages of the most prestigious scientific journals.  Why?

Most biomedical research depends on understanding how organisms work at the molecular level.  Each of the 30,000 proteins in the human body has a unique sequence of amino acids and three-dimensional structure.  Discovering these structures enables a precise understanding of how mutations cause inherited disease, viruses enter and infect cells, bacteria produce toxins and become resistant to antibiotics, cancer cells grow and metastasize, drugs bind to and inhibit receptors and enzymes, the immune system recognizes foreignness, nerves sense and transmit information, and amyloid plaques form in Alzheimer’s disease.  Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, the structure of a biomolecule conveys a huge amount of information about how it does its job in the body.  Scientific papers reporting structures have a long-lasting impact, because the structure; i.e. the blue-print showing the location of all the atoms of which the molecule is built, is deposited in a database that all scientists can access.  This permanent record of the molecule can be used to determine how it works in health, is damaged by mutations, is attacked by infectious organisms, and can be targeted by drugs.  

 

Related News and Announcements

Putting structure around the genetic basis of some immune diseases

Image: Putting structure around the genetic basis of some immune diseases

The saying in the design world is that form follows function. But in biology, and protein biology in particular, it would be more… Read Full Article »

Dr. Heng Ru was awarded the Cancer Research Institute Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Image: Dr. Heng Ru was awarded the Cancer Research Institute Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Dr. Heng Ru, a postdoctoral fellow in the Wu lab, was recently awarded the Cancer Research Institute Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship. During the three-year fellowship, Dr. Ru will investigate the catalytic and regulatory mechanism of the recombination-activating gene… Read Full Article »

A simpler way to measure complex biochemical interactions

Image: A simpler way to measure complex biochemical interactions

Life teems with interactions. Proteins bind. Bonds form between atoms, and break. Enzymes cut. Drugs attach to cell receptors. DNA hybridizes. Those interactions make the processes… Read Full Article »

Dr. Tom Kirchhausen became a newly elected member of EMBO

Tom Kirchhausen was one of the 106 outstanding researchers in the life sciences that were newly elected to European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) membership. One hundred of the scientists reside in Europe and neighboring… Read Full Article »