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Welcome from the Chair

Patricia M. Kane, PhD, Chair and professor

Patricia M. Kane, PhD
Professor and Chair

Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology offers a highly collaborative research community and an excellent training environment for young scientists. The field of biochemistry and molecular biology has been transformed in the past decade with the sequencing of the human genome and genomes of other organisms, atomic resolution structures for many important macromolecules, and technological advances that allow integration of this information to address fundamental questions about the structure and function of cells and organisms. These developments create unprecedented opportunities for scientific research and understanding of human health and disease.

Research Strengths

Departmental faculty members are well-funded; most faculty members hold NIH grants. Senior faculty are also active in grant study sections and editorial boards on a national level. Areas of research strength in our department include:

  • bioenergetics
  • structural biology
  • design of novel proteins
  • mitochondrial function in health and disease
  • cellular mechanisms of aging
  • structure and function of biological membranes
  • membrane transport mechanisms
  • development of new genomic technologies
  • regulation of the actin cytoskeleton
  • structure and function of RNA-based enzymes
  • regulation of DNA replication
  • transcriptional regulation
  • the molecular basis of development
  • cell and molecular biology of the visual system
Many investigators in the department use model organisms in order to rigorously address highly conserved mechanisms at a molecular level. Our results have implications for many human diseases, including cancer, neurodegeneration, aging, and diabetes.

Training in the department centers on laboratory research, but also develops other critical skills such as scientific writing and presentation. Our students are well-prepared to pursue many different careers in biomedical sciences and have successfully transitioned into academic and industrial research, education, and less traditional careers such as patent law.