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

Congratulations to Jerry Wei for being selected for the 2022 MilliporeSigma Fellowship

Jerry WeiLianjie “Jerry” Wei is a third-year graduate student in the Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology (BBSB) program. He is currently working in the Laboratory of Dr. Natalie Niemi in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics to complete his Ph.D. studies. His research is focused on understanding how protein post-translational modifications regulate mitochondrial organellar homeostasis. (more…)

Congratulations to Garrett Ginell for being selected for the 2022 MilliporeSigma Fellowship

Garrett GinellGarrett Ginell is a fourth-year graduate student in the Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology (BBSB) program. He is completing his Ph.D. thesis work in the lab of Dr. Alex Holehouse (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics), where he is applying and developing theoretical and computational methods to understand how chemical features encoded in intrinsically disordered proteins determine their propensity to interact with one another. (more…)

Congratulations to Jasmine Cubuk for being selected for the 2022 John E. Majors Fellowship Award

Jasmine CubukJasmine is a recent graduate in the Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology (BBSB) program. She defended on April 21st, 2023. She did her PhD thesis work in the lab of Dr. Andrea Soranno, where she studied how sequence composition of intrinsically disordered regions within a protein can affect interactions with both proteins and nucleic acids using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy.

Jasmine joined the BBSB program after receiving her B.S. from Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey with a major in biochemistry & molecular biology and a minor in holistic health. Prior to starting her Ph.D. work, Jasmine studied polymer synthesis and how polymer interactions contribute to optimized hydrogel formation. (more…)

Congratulations to Ankita Chadda for being selected for the 2022 Elson Fellowship in honor of Dr. Elliot Elson

Ankita ChaddaAnkita did her MS in Medical Biochemistry at Sardar Patel Medical College in India. She joined DRSCB program through the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in Saint Louis in 2018 and is pursuing PhD in the lab of Dr. Eric Galburt in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics.

Ankita’s graduate research is focused on characterizing the activation mechanisms of a helicase and DNA repair protein called UvrD1 from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. She is using quantitative assays like analytical ultracentrifugation to determine the oligomeric status and stopped flow kinetics to measure DNA unwinding by UvrD1 in presence and absence of accessory factors.

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Select Publications

Evelyn Ploetz, Benjamin Ambrose, Anders Barth, Richard Börner, Felix Erichson, Achillefs N. Kapanidis, Harold D. Kim, Marcia Levitus, Timothy M. Lohman, Abhishek Mazumder, David S. Rueda, Fabio D. Steffen, Thorben Cordes, Steven W. Magennis, & Eitan Lerner (2023). “A new twist on PIFE: photoisomerisation-related fluorescence enhancement” ArXiv. 2023 Jul 10;arXiv:2302.12455v2. (Abstract)

Min Kyung Shinn, Sumit K. Chaturvedi, Alexander G. Kozlov, & Timothy M. Lohman (2023). “Allosteric effects of E. coli SSB and RecR proteins on RecO protein binding to DNA” Nucleic Acids Res. 2023 Mar 21;51(5):2284-2297. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkad084. (Abstract)

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)

Liana Beld, Hyeim Jung, Christina A. Bulman, Bruce A. Rosa, Peter U. Fischer, James W. Janetka, Sara Lustigman, Judy A. Sakanari, and Makedonka Mitreva (2022). “Aspartyl Protease Inhibitors as Anti-Filarial Drugs” Pathogens. 2022 Jun 18;11(6):707. doi: 10.3390/pathogens11060707. (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.

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.

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Research Awards

August 11th, 2023 – Natalie M. Niemi, PhD, Assistant Professor in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, received a new four-year grant award from Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Core Programs of the National Science Federation for her research entitled “The role of protein phosphorylation in the mitochondrial matrix in determining mitophagic selectivity”.

August 11th, 2023 – Natalie M. Niemi, PhD, Assistant Professor in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, received a new five-year MIRA grant award from National Institute of General Medical Sciences for her research entitled “Delineating phosphorylation-mediated regulation of mitochondrial function”.

August 11th, 2023 – Natalie M. Niemi, PhD, Assistant Professor in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, received a one-year grant award from the Washington University Digestive Disease Research Core Center (DDRCC), sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) for her research entitled “Investigating mitochondrial protein phosphorylation in NAFLD and NASH”.

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.

More Research Awards