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 Drs. Natalie Niemi and Andrea Soranno for being awarded the DBBS Outstanding Mentor Award

Drs. Natalie Niemi and Andrea Soranno were awarded the DBBS Outstanding Mentor Award on April 5th.  This award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional mentorship qualities, providing invaluable guidance, support, and inspiration to graduate students in their academic and professional endeavors.

2024 BMB Seed Grant Program

The mission of the BMB Research Seed Grant Program is to promote BMB researchers at all levels to develop new avenues of research and/or collaborations that extend beyond their lab’s current research. The BMB Research Seed grant program goal is to stimulate new interactions with external scientists outside of the department.
A broad spectrum of proposal topics will be considered including fundamental studies in biochemistry/biophysics as well as more applied or disease-oriented studies that utilize quantitative or mechanistic approaches as a central component of the research.

Please click the link for more eligibility and application requirements. Application deadline is May 1st

Congratulations to Dept. Chair Dr. Benjamin Garcia for the following achievements:

Dr. Benjamin Garcia2024 ASMS DEIA Mentorship Award
The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Mentorship Award recognizes Dr. Garcia who has demonstrated exemplary service in the STEM mentoring and/or recruitment of individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the field of mass spectrometry.

2024 EAS Mass Spectrometry Award
Each year the Eastern Analytical Symposium honors Analytical Chemists who have distinguished career achievements. Dr. Garcia has been recognized for this award by advancing these fields by superior work in developing theory, techniques or instrumentation.

President-Elect of the U.S. Human Proteome Organization
US HUPO is an organization that engages in scientific and educational activities to encourage the use of proteomics technologies and to disseminate knowledge pertaining to the human proteome and that of model organisms.

Congratulations to Daniel Griffith for being selected as the 2024 MilliporeSigma Fellowship

Dan is a fifth-year graduate student in the Computational & Systems Biology (CSB) program. He is completing his Ph.D. in the lab of Dr. Alex Holehouse, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, where he develops computational and experimental tools for investigating intrinsically disordered proteins and biomolecular condensates. (more…)

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Select Publications

Alpha Raj Mekapogu, Zhihong Xu, Srinivasa Pothula, Chamini Perera, Tony Pang, S M Zahid Hosen, Vishnu Damalanka, James Janetka, David Goldstein, Romano Pirola, Jeremy Wilson & Minoti Apte (2023). “HGF/c-Met pathway inhibition combined with chemotherapy increases cytotoxic T-cell infiltration and inhibits pancreatic tumour growth and metastasis” Cancer Lett. 2023 Aug 1:568:216286. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2023.216286. Epub 2023 Jun 22. (Abstract)

Denis Belitškin, Pauliina Munne, Shishir M Pant, Johanna M Anttila, Ilida Suleymanova, Kati Belitškina, Daniel Kirchhofer, James Janetka, Taivo Käsper, Sami Jalil, Jeroen Pouwels, Topi A Tervonen & Juha Klefström (2024). “Hepsin promotes breast tumor growth signaling via the TGFβ-EGFR axis” Mol Oncol. 2024 Mar;18(3):547-561. doi: 10.1002/1878-0261.13545. Epub 2023 Nov 13. (Abstract)

Vivian Truong Jones, Ramona Graves-Deal, Zheng Cao, Galina Bogatcheva, Marisol A Ramirez, Sarah J Harmych, James N Higginbotham, Vineeta Sharma, Vishnu C Damalanka, Claudia C Wahoski, Neeraj Joshi, Maria Johnson Irudayam, Joseph T Roland, Gregory D Ayers, Qi Liu, Robert J Coffey, James W Janetka & Bhuminder Singh (2024). “Inhibition of autocrine HGF maturation overcomes cetuximab resistance in colorectal cancer” Cell Mol Life Sci. 2024 Jan 12;81(1):28. doi: 10.1007/s00018-023-05071-5. (Abstract)

Robert Obermann, Bereket Yemane, Cassie Jarvis, Francisco M Franco, Yevhenii Kyriukha, William Nolan, Beth Gohara, Andrzej M Krezel, Scott A Wildman & James W Janetka (2024). “Small Molecule Antagonists of the DNA Repair ERCC1/XPA Protein-Protein Interaction” ChemMedChem. 2024 Feb 1:e202300648. doi: 10.1002/cmdc.202300648. Online ahead of print. (Abstract)

Amarendar Reddy Maddirala, Kevin Tamadonfar, Jerome S Pinkner, Denise Sanick, Scott J Hultgren & James W Janetka (2024). “Discovery of Orally Bioavailable FmlH Lectin Antagonists as Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections” J Med Chem. 2024 Mar 14;67(5):3668-3678. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.3c02128. Epub 2024 Feb 3. (Abstract)

Vishnu C Damalanka, Victoria Banas, Paolo De Bona, Maithri M Kashipathy, Kevin Battaile, Scott Lovell & James W Janetka (2024). “Mechanism-Based Macrocyclic Inhibitors of Serine Proteases” J Med Chem2024 Mar 28;67(6):4833-4854. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.3c02388. Epub 2024 Mar 13. (Abstract)

Adrianus C. M. Boon, Traci L. Bricker, Ethan J. Fritch, Sarah R. Leist, Kendra Gully, Ralph S. Baric, Rachel L. Graham, Brigid V. Troan, Matthew Mahoney  & James W. Janetka (2024). “Efficacy of host cell serine protease inhibitor MM3122 against SARS-CoV-2 for treatment and prevention of COVID-19.” J Virol. 2024 Apr;9. doi:10.1128/jvi.01903-23 (Abstract)

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)

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

September 11th, 2023 – James Janetka, PhD, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics along with Makedonka Mitreva, PhD, Medicine of Medicine and Genetics, received a new four-year grant award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, for their research entitled “Innovative therapeutic strategies to support elimination of river blindness”.

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).

More Research Awards