Biophysics & Structural Biology

Biophysics

Research in Biophysics at UVA utilizes quantitative approaches to understand the physical and chemical basis of complex biological processes. Biological processes are studied at every level and across many fields, from the theoretical to the experimental.

The Biophysics Graduate Program at the University of Virginia is one of the oldest in the country. We employ a wide range of experimental and computational approaches in a highly interactive and multidisciplinary environment.  One of our strengths is in the study of membranes, which are of fundamental importance for biological systems. Membranes compartmentalize the cell, thereby controlling the internal cellular environment.  They are sites for energy transduction and signaling.  Finally, many regulatory processes take place at membrane surfaces.

Students in biophysics at UVA gain a strong foundation in biophysical approaches and analysis through innovative research and didactic coursework.

Structural Biology

structural biology data graphicResearch in Structural Biology at UVA seeks to acquire a thorough understanding of biological function by gaining a detailed knowledge of the structure of the macromolecules that comprise the machinery of life.Students interested in Structural Biology pursue research designed to determine the 3D structures of proteins and nucleic acids using a variety of methods, including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, x-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy.  Through the use of these different structural methodologies, we are able to gain unique and complementary information about the structure of macromolecules.  These structures, in turn, provide important insights into the molecular basis of function and provide a framework for the design of experiments to address biological processes involving the macromolecules under investigation.  Structures of medically relevant targets can also play a critical role in accelerating the process of drug design through the use of structure-based lead compound discovery.

Structural biology laboratories at the University of Virginia have established strengths in integral membrane proteins, structural genomics, cell signaling factors, as well as macromolecular assemblies such virus particles and filaments.

Faculty
  • Ai, Huiwang

    Spatiotemporal Regulation of Biological Signaling; Protein Engineering for Imaging, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics

  • Auble, David T.

    Molecular Mechanisms of Transcriptional Regulation

  • Barrett, Paula Q.

    Regulation of low-voltage activated T-type Ca2+ channel activity by kinases and heterotrimeric G-proteins and their roles in physiological responses.

  • Bekiranov, Stefan

    Physical Modeling of Microarray Hybridization; Analysis of Genomic Tiling Array Data; Bioinformatics; Computational Biology; Regulatory Networks

  • Bushweller, John H.

    Drug Development Targeting Transcription Drivers in Cancer; Structure/Function Studies of Transcription Factor Drivers in Cancer; Structural Studies of Membrane Proteins

  • Cafiso, David S.

    Molecular Mechanisms for Membrane Transport and Cell Signaling

  • Chen, Wei-Min

    Statistical genetics and genomics.

  • Columbus, Linda

    Biophysical Chemistry: Membrane protein structure, function, and dynamics

  • Derewenda, Zygmunt S.

    Structure-function relationships in proteins

  • DuBay, Kateri

    The design of self-assembling nanomaterials

  • Egelman, Edward H.

    Structure and Function of Macromolecular Complexes Using Electron Microscopy

  • Felder, Robin A.

    Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology. Medical Automation Research. Neurotransmitters, cell surface receptors and intracellular second messengers.

  • Ford, Roseanne M.

    Bacterial attachment and biofilms, microbial transport in porous media

  • Gahlmann, Andreas

    Super-resolution fluorescence imaging of bacterial cells

  • Ganser-Pornillos, Barbie

    The Structural Biology of HIV assembly

  • Guler, Jennifer

    Cell Biology and Parasitology.

  • Harris, Tajie H.

    Immune response to infectious disease in the CNS

  • Hsu, Ku-Lung

    Chemical Biology, Lipid Biochemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, and Mass Spectrometry

  • Hunt, Donald F.

    Analytical Biochemistry

  • Kasson, Peter M.

    Mechanisms of cell entry by influenza; Viral glycan recognition; drug resistance; molecular dynamics simulation; distributed computing.

  • Kedes, Dean H.

    Human Herpes virus associated with malignancy, including Kaposi’s Sarcoma

  • Keller, Raymond E.

    Cellular and molecular mechanisms of morphogenesis

  • Kenworthy, Anne

    Architecture and function of biological membranes

  • Kester, Mark

    Nanotechnologies for targeted drug delivery

  • Landers, James P.

    Bioanalytical Chemistry on Microchips

  • Lawrence, Michael B.

    Vascular and Molecular Engineering

  • Leitinger, Norbert

    Role of lipid oxidation products in inflammation and vascular immunology in atherosclerosis and diabetes

  • Lu, Xiaowei

    Developmental regulation of planar cell polarity in the mammalian nervous
    system

  • Minor, Wladek

    Structure-Function Relationships in Macromolecules; Infectious Diseases and Drug Discovery; Bioinformatics and Big Data; Scientific
    Reproducibility

  • Nakamoto, Robert K.

    Structure-Function of Active Transporters

  • Papin, Jason A.

    Systems biology, infectious disease, cancer, toxicology, metabolic engineering

  • Patel, Manoj

    Modulation of sodium channel gating by beta subunits and novel sodium channel blockers; Synaptic transmission in dorsal horn neurons

  • Peirce-Cottler, Shayn M.

    Tissue Engineering and Regeneration, Computational Systems Biology, Vascular Growth and Remodeling, Stem Cell Therapies

  • Perez-Reyes, Edward

    Exploring epilepsy circuits then preventing seizures using AAV-based gene therapies.

  • Pompano, Rebecca

    Bioanalytical tools for inflammatory disease

  • Pornillos, Owen

    Structure and assembly of HIV Virus/host interactions; Structural biology of the innate immune system

  • Redemann, Stefanie

    Chromosome segregation and aneuploidy in meiosis and mitosis

  • Rekosh, David M.

    Human Immunodeficiency; Virus Gene Expression

  • Saucerman, Jeffrey J.

    Roles of complex signaling networks involved in the regulation of cardiovascular function and disease

  • Somlyo, Avril V.

    Novel signal transduction pathways in smooth muscles that regulate contractility and impact diseases of the vasculature, airway and gastrointestinal tract.

  • Sonkusare, Swapnil

    Microcirculation, vascular ion channels, calcium signaling mechanisms, endothelial cells, hypertension

  • Stukenberg, P. Todd

    Mechanisms of chromosome segregation in Mitosis and generation of Chromosomal Instability in tumors

  • Swami, Nathan

    Molecular and bioelectric devices; tissue regeneration.

  • Tamm, Lukas K.

    Biomembrane Structure and Function; Cell Entry of Enveloped Viruses; Neurosecretion by Exocytosis; Structure of Bacterial Pathogen Membrane Proteins; Lipid-Protein Interactions

  • Venton, B. Jill

    Analytical Neurochemistry; Dopamine and Serotonin Neurotransmission in Drosophila; Mechanisms of rapid adenosine signaling in rodents

  • Wiener, Michael C.

    Structure/function of integral membrane proteins; structural biophysics; enzymology and virology of ZMPSTE24; sparse-constraint structure determination; technology development

  • Yeager, Mark

    Cardiac Gap Junction Membrane Channels / IntegrinsWater Channels / Rotavirus / Reovirus / Retrovirus

  • Zang, Chongzhi

    Bioinformatics methodology development; Epigenetics and chromatin biology; Transcriptional regulation; Cancer genomics and epigenomics; Statistical methods for biomedical data integration; Theoretical and computational biophysics

  • Zimmer, Jochen

    Transport of biopolymers across biological membranes with a particular interest in polysaccharide and protein translocation.