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

Recent News

Anna Damato selected as 2022 Ceil M. DeGutis Prize Fellow

Anna Damato

Anna Damato is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Neuroscience in the Department of Biology. Anna was nominated for this award by her thesis mentor, Dr. Erik Herzog, in whose lab she is connecting the bench to the bedside by investigating mechanisms of glioblastoma brain tumor circadian rhythms and how they impact the efficacy of chemotherapy. Anna uses real-time bioluminescence reporters of circadian gene expression to analyze the effects of timed treatment, with the goal of maximizing anti-tumor effects and minimizing side effects of chemotherapy in treating an otherwise dismal disease. In addition to cellular and molecular studies, Anna collaborates with physicians at the Siteman Cancer Center to assess benefits of timed chemotherapy in patients with brain cancer. (more…)

Congratulations Dr. Jim Janetka

Dr. Jim Janetka

Congratulations to Dr. Jim Janetka who was named a Senior member of the National Academy of Inventors. Dr. Janetka was named among six researchers from Washington University in St. Louis.

Richard Axelbaum, PhD; David T. Curiel, MD, PhD; James W. Janetka, PhD; Gregory M. Lanza, MD, PhD; Robi D. Mitra, PhD; and Jennifer N. Silva, MD — are being recognized for their success in patents, licensing and commercialization, and for producing technologies that have the potential to have a significant impact on the welfare of society. (more…)

Congratulations to Jennette Codjoe for being selected for the 2021 John E. Majors Fellowship Award

Jennette CodjoeJennette received her bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. In 2016 she joined the Plant and Microbial Biosciences Program in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University. She is completing her thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Haswell, where she works to elucidate mechanical signal transduction pathways in plants. Using a combination of proteomic and genetic screens in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, Jennette uncovered a novel connection between a plasma membrane mechanosensitive ion channel, MSL10, and proteins that tether the ER and the plasma membrane together. She has shown that MSL10 influences the morphology of ER-plasma membrane contact sites. (more…)

Congratulations to Ryan Emenecker for being selected for the 2021 John E. Majors Fellowship Award

Ryan EmeneckerRyan went to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities for undergrad where he completed a double major in Plant Biology and Genetics, Cell Biology, & Development. Ryan joined the Plant and Microbial Biosciences program in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis in 2017. Ryan joined the lab of Dr. Lucia Strader for his thesis work. Upon the Strader Lab moving to Duke in 2020, Ryan became co-advised by Dr. Alex Holehouse. Ryan’s thesis work covered a wide-range of areas including plant hormone crosstalk, biomolecular condensates in plants, and the role of protein disorder in condensate formation. Ryan finished his Ph.D. in December 2021. (more…)

More in the News Archive

Select Publications

Zev J. Greenberg, Darlene Monlish, Luana Chiquetto Paracatu, Qian Dong, Michael P. Rettig, Nate Dee Roundy, Rofaida Gaballa, Weikai Li, Wei Yang, Cliff J. Luke, & Laura Schuettpelz (2022). “The tetraspanin CD53 protects stressed hematopoietic stem cells via promotion of DREAM complex- mediated quiescence” Blood. 2022 Dec 21;blood.2022016929. doi: 10.1182/blood.2022016929. Online ahead of print. (Abstract)

Garrett M. Ginell & Alex S. Holehouse (2022). “An Introduction to the Stickers-and-Spacers Framework as Applied to Biomolecular Condensates” Methods Mol Biol. 2023;2563:95-116. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-2663-4_4. (Abstract)

Nicolás S. González-Foutel, Juliana Glavina, Wade M. Borcherds, Matías Safranchik, Susana Barrera-Vilarmau, Amin Sagar, Alejandro Estaña, Amelie Barozet, Nicolás A. Garrone, Gregorio Fernandez-Ballester, Clara Blanes-Mira, Ignacio E. Sánchez, Gonzalo de Prat-Gay, Juan Cortés, Pau Bernadó, Rohit V. Pappu, Alex S. Holehouse, Gary W. Daughdrill, & Lucía B. Chemes (2022). “Conformational buffering underlies functional selection in intrinsically disordered protein regions” Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2022 Aug;29(8):781-790. doi: 10.1038/s41594-022-00811-w. Epub 2022 Aug 10. (Abstract)

Alexander G. Kozlov, Xian Cheng, Hongshan Zhang, Min Kyung Shinn, Elizabeth Weiland, Binh Nguyen, Irina A. Shkel, Emily Zytkiewicz, Ilya J. Finkelstein, M. Thomas Record Jr., & Timothy M. Lohman (2022). “How Glutamate Promotes Liquid-liquid Phase Separation and DNA Binding Cooperativity of E. coli SSB Protein” J Mol Biol. 2022 Mar 26;434(9):167562. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2022.167562. Online ahead of print.

Jie Sun, Weikai Li, & Michael L. Gross (2022). “Advances in mass spectrometry-based footprinting of membrane proteins” Proteomics. 2022 Apr;22(8):e2100222. doi: 10.1002/pmic.202100222. (Abstract)

Upasana L. Mallimadugula & Eric A. Galburt (2022). “Parallel path mechanisms lead to nonmonotonic force-velocity curves and an optimum load for molecular motor function” Phys Rev E. 2022 Mar;105(3-1):034405. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.105.034405. (Abstract)

Shixuan Liu, Shuang Li, Andrzej M. Krezel, & Weikai Li (2022). “Stabilization and structure determination of integral membrane proteins by termini restraining” Nat Protoc. 2022 Jan 17. doi: 10.1038/s41596-021-00656-5. Online ahead of print. (Abstract)

Past Events

2022 BMB and CB&P Softball Game

August 31st, 2022 – The departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Cell Biology & Physiology had lunch and played a softball game together.

The final score was BMB 17, CB&P 14!

You can click here to view photos from the event.

Wellness Session – Krista Jarvis

On April 28th, 2021, the Department hosted a special session entitled “Evidence-based Practices that Support Mental and Emotional Well-being”. Mrs. Krista Jarvis, Clinical Case Manager and Program Manager in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University, walks the group through five different evidence-based practices for our mental and emotional well-being. These practices are designed to help each individual feel empowered to utilize a variety of simple techniques for stress-reduction in these challenging times.

If you would like to view this, just click here.

Working Smarter – Strategic Planning & Time Management Basics

On March 5th, 2021, Dr. Thi Nguyen presented on “Working Smarter – Strategic Planning & Time Management Basics”. To watch this presentation, please click here.

Career Panel Discussion – 2021

On January 22nd, 2021, the department hosted a Career Panel Discussion on how to apply for jobs in academia and industry. Panelist included: Dr. Erin Heckler, Director, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs; Dr. Alex Holehouse, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics; Dr. Ron Dolle, Chemistry Director, Center for Drug Discovery; Dr. Michael Kinch, Director, Center for Drug Discovery.

If you would like to view this panel discussion, please click here.

More in the Events Archive

Research Awards

Oct 1st 2022 – Alex Holehouse, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular has received $380,000 in funding from the Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP) to lead a three-year project titled “Molecular determinants of evolutionary conservation in disordered protein regions”. This project will integrate computational and experimental approaches to uncover who intrinsically disordered protein regions evolve. The proposal involves co-investigators Dr. Hyun Kate Lee (University of Toronto, CA) and Dr. Dolf Weijers (Wageningen University, NL).

Oct 1st 2022 – Alex Holehouse, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular has received more than $450,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to lead a five-year project titled “Molecular engineering to understand desiccation protection and water responsiveness.” The project is part of a larger grant called “Life without water: protecting macromolecules, cells, and organisms during desiccation and rehydration across kingdoms of life.” This grant establishes the Water and Life Interface Institute led by Carnegie Science (https://www.walii.science/). The new initiative includes collaborators from at least nine research institutions nationwide.

August 16th, 2022 – Benjamin Garcia, PhD, Raymond H. Wittcoff Distinguished Professor and Head of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, along with Elizabeth Bhoj, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia received a five year grant from the National Institutes of Health for their research entitled “Quantitative mass spectrometry for comprehending epigenetic mechanisms in a new underlying neurological developmental disorder”.

July 1st, 2022 – Michael Greenberg, PhD, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics along with Kory J. Lavine, MD PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Nathaniel D. Huebsch, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering have received a new three-year grant award from American Heart Association for their research entitled “Human heart-on-a-chip to study the immune system in cardiac disease pathogenesis and repair”.

April 22nd, 2022 – Andrea Soranno, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics along with Kathleen Hall, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and Alex Holehouse, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics have received a new five-year grant from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for their research entitled “A multipronged investigation of SARS-CoV-2 genome packaging”

More Research Awards