From Harland Wood's discovery of carbon dioxide fixation in animal cells to the recent development of the Mighty Mouse by Richard Hanson's group, the Department of Biochemistry has a storied tradition in biomedical research. Faculty in the department use a wide range of techniques and systems to address fundamental biological and disease related questions. Research within the department follows along several tracks.

Cancer Biology

Biochemistry faculty utilize state of the art techniques and animal models to address how dysregulation of cell survival, cell division, metabolism and chromatin organization contribute to tumor development and progression. Unraveling the complexities of the pathways that trigger tumor initiation and progression is an essential step towards the development of effective therapies for cancer patients.

Metabolism and Signaling

Loss of metabolic homeostasis, frequently associated with a western diet and obesity, is an increasing health risk and is known to contribute to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Faculty utilize approaches including structural biology, genomics, and animal models to define mechanistic insights that link altered metabolism with disease.

Gene Expression, Chromatin Organization, and Disease 

Proper gene expression is essential for the homeostasis of cells and organism. Mechanistic insights that emerge from the analysis of chromatin organization and dynamics, epigenetic and transcriptional control in normal versus disease settings will be the foundation for how biochemistry faculty address solve paradigms that limit our understanding of biochemical and cellular processes.

RNA in Health and Disease 

RNA is central for the regulation of gene expression, from viruses to human. Our faculty investigate cellular and biochemical functions of RNA, RNA-protein interactions, and deregulation of RNA metabolism in diseases using an array of cutting edge high-throughput and systems approaches. 

Protein Structure and Function 

To understand the functions of proteins and how this pertains to disease, it is necessary to frame function in the context of protein structure. The Biochemistry faculty use structural biology techniques along with complementary biophysical and molecular biology methods to investigate protein structure-function relationships. These studies are aimed at understanding normal functions in healthy cells, revealing mechanisms of disease, and discovering new small molecule ligands to inhibit or enhance protein function.

Infectious Disease 

Infectious diseases caused by viruses and bacteria are a major threat to global health. Our faculty probe the cellular responses to RNA viruses, the immune responses to bacterial infections, and mechanisms of bacterial resistance to antibiotics toward developing novel therapeutic approaches.


*Member of the Center for RNA Science and Therapeutics