Welcome & Mission Statement

John A. Cooper, M.D., Ph.D.


Head of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics


Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics.

Precise understanding of the molecular interactions that underlie both normal physiology and disease states is the foundation for rational approaches to genetic therapies, drug design and personalized medicine. Our goal in this endeavor is to obtain a molecular understanding of mechanism (i.e., how biological molecules carry out their functions). We seek to advance our understanding of biology using the disciplines of chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Our focused in vitro studies of molecules are integrated with emerging discoveries in cellular and organismal biology through collaborative research that informs the efforts of investigators across the university and drives creativity.

Areas of research in the department include nucleic acid enzymology, molecular motors, membrane protein biology and signal transduction, protein structure, folding and dynamics and chemical biology.

A common approach in the Department is to use methods to understand biological molecular function recognizing that one only fully understands a system when its behavior can be predicted quantitatively.

New facilities have been built to examine mechanisms at the single molecule level, along with an increased capacity for X-ray crystallography and NMR.

Our department provides a rich environment for both faculty and student growth, and we welcome inquiries.


Mission Statement

Members of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics are dedicated to investigating the complex relationships and mechanisms that control biological processes. These processes are defined by interactions among proteins, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and between proteins or nucleic acids with small metabolites.

Our investigators use experimental structural, thermodynamic, kinetic and single molecule methods as well as computational approaches to understand and quantify structural and dynamic aspects of macromolecular interactions. Our research provides fundamental knowledge that enables advances in medicine and improvements in the quality of life.