The Structural Biology Program is dedicated to understanding biological function at the structural and mechanistic levels, determining the structural basis of disease-related alterations in biological macromolecules, and aiding the development of novel antitumor agents through collaborative studies. Our researchers are investigating a wide range of biological processes including cell growth and proliferation, DNA-damage response, axon guidance, information processing by neural ensembles, transport vesicle budding and protein sorting in the secretory pathway, and RNA/DNA tertiary structure and its recognition by proteins. These areas are studied through interdisciplinary approaches that include both core structural biology methods -such as x-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and optical imaging - as well as biochemical, cellular biological, and genetic methods.
Research involving three-dimensional structural information is focused on three main areas: the macromolecular assemblies that represent a cellular machinery or signal-processing unit, the function of newly discovered cancer-related proteins, and experimental antitumor drugs bound to their protein or DNA targets.
In addition, optical-imaging methods are being applied to record neural activity in genetically engineered animals with the goal of understanding how neural ensembles store and process information.