The faculty involved in the newly established Biomolecular Sciences Institute will focus on studies of biomacromolecular interactions, development and identification of biomarkers, and the application of nanotechnology to infectious diseases, cancer biology and neurodegenerative disorders. The main goal of the institute is to enable a strong group of researchers to work on collaborative projects in biomolecular sciences with an emphasis in biomedical applications.

The Institute brings together interdisciplinary and distinguished experts from the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Physics, as well as faculty from the College of Engineering & Computing (Biomedical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering and Mechanical & Materials Engineering), College of Medicine (Cellular Biology & Pharmacology and Human & Molecular Genetics), as well as the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work (Environmental and Occupational Health).


Department of Biological Sciences

  • Alejandro Barbieri - Endocytosis and Signal transduction. How the small GTP Rab5, is linked to the oncogene Ras, tyrosine receptor kinases and other intracellular signaling molecules. Curriculum Vitae
  • Niclas Engene – Marine microbial natural products: multidisciplinary research focused on the biosynthesis and distribution of bioactive secondary metabolites in marine cyanobacteria and other microorganisms. We are interested in elucidating the link between natural products diversity and biological diversity, as well as utilization of molecular-phylogenetic methods for directing and enhancing natural product discovery programs. Curriculum Vitae
  • Matthew DeGennaro - Understanding how mosquitoes sense their human and plant hosts is required for the development of new tools to control harmful mosquito behaviors. Using a molecular genetic approach, we seek to identify the odors and olfactory receptors that are necessary for mosquito host detection. Curriculum Vitae
  • Lou W. Kim - Multicellular development and eukaryotic chemotaxis using Dictyostelium as a model organism.
  • Lidia Kos - Neural Crest Development: Genes mutated in neurocristopathies such as Hirschprung’s Disease and Waardenburg syndrome. Curriculum Vitae
  • Jun Li - Mosquitoes transmit many diseases including malaria and the recent Zika virus. My research focuses on pathogen infection pathways using combinational approaches of genomics, chemistry and biochemistry. In particular, I use 1) bioinformatics approaches to analyze the genome sequences and to visualize data; 2) genome-wide association approach to find mosquito genes of interest, and 3) biochemical and molecular biology approaches to investigate the function of the candidate trait-related gene. Finally, we develop vaccines and small molecule drugs targeting the pathways. My group have successfully identified one novel pathway mediating Plasmodium parasite invasion in mosquitoes, a candidate protein as a malaria vaccine antigen, and a compound to block malaria transmission. As a PI, I lead several research projects supported by NSF CAREER award and NIH Research grants. Curriculum Vitae
  • Jessica Siltberg-Liberles – Evolutionary dynamics of protein structure and function. We use computational biology to perform a combination of large scale and applied studies aimed at elucidating how conformational flexibility, post-translational regulation, protein-protein interactions, and signal transduction evolve and its implications in for e.g. virulence and neurodegenerative disease. Curriculum Vitae
  • Jose Eirin Lopez - Structural, functional and evolutionary characterization of chromatin, epigenetics and its role during adaptive environmental responses in marine invertebrates. Curriculum Vitae
  • Fernando Noriega - Physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genomics and proteomics to study mosquito’s physiological processes such as digestion, activity of the endocrine system and hormonal and nutritional regulation of gene expression. Curriculum Vitae
  • Laura Serbus - Host-microbe interactions, focusing on how Wolbachia bacteria interact with and manipulate insect cells at the molecular level. Curriculum Vitae
  • Eric von Wettberg - Population genetics of crop plants and endangered plants. We take approaches from genomics, physiology, and field biology to understand how population bottlenecks such as crop domestication affect stress tolerance. Our work provides the knowledge and resources to necessary to effectively utilize germplasm in breeding programs and to better manage rare plant populations. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • John P. Berry - Interdisciplinary research in my laboratory focuses on the chemistry and toxicology/pharmacology of bioactive metabolites from microbes, and particularly toxins from marine and freshwater micro algae. Curriculum Vitae
  • David Chatfield - Work in the Chatfield research group focuses on biomolecular simulation of heme proteins in order to understand, influence and design function. Curriculum Vitae
  • Konstantinos Kavallieratos - Organometallic, supramolecular and separations chemistry, and their biological applications: Organometallic dyes for Nitric Oxide detection. Coordination and extraction-based separation and sensing methods for toxic metals and biomedically important ions and pairs. Curriculum Vitae
  • Watson Lees - The use of organic chemistry to study biochemical problems such the folding of disulfide containing proteins. Curriculum Vitae
  • Francisco Fernandez-Lima - Development of new generation instrumentation and methodologies for biomedical and behavioral research, with emphasis in gas-phase, post-ionization separations, high resolution mass spectrometry, and new surface probes for mass spectrometry based molecular imaging. Curriculum Vitae
  • Jaroslava Miksovska - Research interest involves understanding the molecular mechanism of calcium signaling in potassium channel interacting proteins and conformational dynamics associated with ligand binding to hexa-coordinate globins. Curriculum Vitae
  • Joong-Ho Moon - Nanoparticals: Imaging used in microscopic physiological studies in areas of neurobiology and immunology Curriculum Vitae
  • Kevin O'Shea - Research projects focus on mechanistic organic chemistry particularly related to radical and oxidative stress, using product and kinetic studies to establish the reaction pathways of hydroxyl radicals. Curriculum Vitae
  • Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh Director, Biomolecular Sciences Institute - The structure and function of DNA topoisomerases as the basis for discovery of antibacterial and anticancer drug leads from synthetic molecules and natural products. Curriculum Vitae
  • Xiaotang Wang - Structural and functional characterization of heme proteins containing thiolate axial ligand. Design and engineering of metalloproteins for asymmetric catalysis. Curriculum Vitae
  • Stanislaw Wnuk - Organic chemistry of nucleosides and nucleotides with applications in biochemistry and in anticancer and antiviral medicine Curriculum Vitae
  • Yi Xiao - Use of Biotechnologies, biomaterials and nanomaterials to develop sensitive, robust and disposable biosensors for point-of-care or on-site applications. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Physics

  • Prem Chapagain - Biophysics: Mathematical modeling of dynamics of infectious diseases Curriculum Vitae
  • Bernard Gerstman - Biophysics: Computational investigations of molecular species hat are implicated in a variety of catastrophic neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and Parkinson’s Curriculum Vitae
  • Jin He - Experimental biophysics: Single molecule and single cell imaging by scanning probe microscopy; Quantitative investigations of molecular interactions by scanning probe and nanopore devices. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Psychology

  • Melanie Stollstorff - Neurobiological bases for higher cognition using genetics, MRI (neuroimaging), and neuro-cognitive testing in humans using a general framework: genes to brain to behavior. Dr. Stollstorff’s work primarily focuses on higher level thinking and feeling, such as executive function, emotional regulation, and deductive reasoning bias and how genetics contribute to individual differences in these functions, in both healthy adults and children and those with neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, depression). Curriculum Vitae


School of Computing & Information Sciences

  • Giri Narasimhan - Bioinformatics, Algorithms, Data Mining, and Information Retrieval. The Bioinformatics Research Group (BioRG) that he heads conducts research on comparative genomics of bacterial genomes, metagenomics, genomic databases, pattern discovery in sequences and structures, transcriptome analysis, prediction of regulatory elements, primer design, probe design, phylogenetic analysis, medical image processing, image analysis, data integration, data mining, information retrieval, knowledge discovery in electronic medical records, and more. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Biomedical Engineering

  • Anthony McGoron - Drug delivery and molecular imaging, primarily for cancer, and specifically the development of multimodal targeted drugs that simultaneously image and provide therapy. Curriculum Vitae
  • Joshua D. Hutcheson - Research focuses on the mechanisms through which tissues are built and maintained and the pathological changes that lead to disease. His work primarily targets cardiovascular diseases—the leading cause of death in Western societies—using advanced imaging, materials science, biomechanics, and molecular biology to connect cellular processes to tissue structure and function. The goal of this work is to better understand the mechanisms through which cells sense and respond to each other and to changes in their environment. Accomplishing this goal can lead to new ways to detect initiators of cardiovascular disease and to interventions that restore tissue to a normal state. Research in the Hutcheson lab requires an interdisciplinary effort with researchers working at the interface between bioengineering and molecular biology. Curriculum Vitae
  • Chenzhong Li - Nanobioengineering/Bioelectronics: Interface with analytical chemistry and cellular electronics, bio-nano conjugations, functional material synthesis and characterization, and device fabrication. Curriculum Vitae
  • Jessica Ramella - Development of novel and non-invasive technologies for the diagnosis of disease, with particular emphasis on retinal disease and conditions that are caused by diabetes. Curriculum Vitae
  • Nikolaos Tsoukias - Cardiovascular system. Experimental and theoretical approaches to link mechanisms at the molecular level to function at a macroscale level. Curriculum Vitae
  • Sharan Ramaswamy- Heart valve tissue engineering, cardiovascular mechanobiology and heart valve disease. Current translational projects including using engineered valvular tissues derived from bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells for valve repair and the use of decellularized bioscaffolds for valve replacement in pediatric patients. At a basic science level, we conduct experiments and build computational models to identify fundamental mechanisms by which mechanical regulation of cells of relevance to valve development can be delineated systematically at the molecular, cellular and tissue scales. One example in this area that we are currently working on is the effect that altered fluid-induced stresses have on valve endothelial cells, that may lead to valve pathologies. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • Sakhrat Khizroev - Physics and Engineering of Nanomagnetics/Spintronics with applications in Medicine and Energy-efficient Information Processing, Nanomedicine, Medical Engineering, Cellular Neuroscience, Cancer Biology, Deep-brain Drug Delivery, Neurodegenerative Diseases (Parkinson’s Disease, Autism, and other dementias), Ophthalmology, Viral and Bacterial Identification/Treatment, Reverse Brain Engineering, Quantum Computing

Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

  • Arvind Agarwal - Carbon nanotube reinforced nanocomposites and coatings, nanomechanics and nanotribology, development of better surface materials for clinical applications such as bone implants. Curriculum Vitae


Department of Medicine

  • Miguel A. Villalona-Calero- Translating laboratory science to clinical trials in cancer patients: Establishing experimental tumor models in animals, development of biomarkers as predictors of response. As well as the performance of molecular correlative studies to clinical trials. Dr. Villalona Calero is also interested in ways of targeting deficiencies in DNA repair with agents that target alternative mechanisms of repair, conducting clinical trials and extensive correlative and preclinical work in this area. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Cellular Biology and Pharmacology

  • Jeremy Chambers - Scaffold proteins are critical components of signal transduction and integration. Scaffolds influence spatial and temporal aspects of signaling by promoting interactions among signaling components, such as kinases. It is the mission of the Chambers lab to understand how these scaffolds and their constituents alter cellular biology in the contexts of aging and human disease. Curriculum Vitae
  • Irina Agoulnik - Development of resistance to chemo and hormonal therapies in endocrine cancers. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Human and Molecular Genetics

  • Alexander Agoulnik – Reproductive biology and endocrinology, transgenic animal models of human diseases, small molecule modulators of G protein-coupled receptors. Curriculum Vitae
  • Wenrui Duan - Cancer genetics, the mechanisms by which genetic and epigenetic alterations contribute to chemo-resistance of cancer therapeutics, and evaluations of novel chemotherapeutic agents with animal models. Curriculum Vitae
  • Kalai Mathee - The molecular mechanisms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa pathogenesis. The significance of research on this organism stems from the fact that chronic bronchopulmonary infection with mucoid (Alg+) strains of P. aeruginosa is the leading cause of mortality in patients suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF). Curriculum Vitae
  • Helen Tempest - Utilizing molecular cytogenetics to study reproductive biology and chromatin organization. Our specific research endeavors to better understand the genetic basis of male infertility and to study the role of chromatin organization in DNA damage, DNA repair, gene expression and genome stability. Curriculum Vitae


Department of Biostatistics

  • Changwon Yoo - Statistical Machine Learning Group (SMLG) has state of art servers to develop and disseminate innovative statistical methods for Big Data Analytics (BDA). The group’s research draws from statistical machine learning, genomics, and neuroscience and seeks to identify and build statistical methods in big data such as genomics, proteomics, neuroimaging, and clinical data. The research is highly collaborative because understanding diseases mechanisms and coming up with better treatments and prevention in medicine and public health inevitably involve analyzing complex and big data. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Dietetics and Nutrition

  • Juan P. Liuzzi - Autophagy is a protective response to ethanol toxicity. Although it has been known for decades that zinc confers protection against ethanol toxicity, the potential role of zinc in the modulation of autophagy has just begun to be understood. Understanding how zinc modulates autophagy could help develop new therapeutic approaches for the prevention or treatment of diseases associated with excessive ethanol consumption such as alcoholic liver disease and alcohol related brain damage. Curriculum Vitae

Department of Environmental and Occupational Health

  • Marcus S. Cooke - Biomonitoring oxidative stress. Genome-wide, sequence-specific approaches to studying the formation and repair of oxidatively damaged DNA. The role of the (d)NTP pool in genome instability. Curriculum Vitae
  • Alok Deoraj - Gene and environment interactions. Complex environmental exposure and microbiome influence on neuroendocrine regulation of reproductive aging and impairment, Identify theranostic gene candidate(s) and biomarkers of the etiology of cancer and neurodegenerative disorders using zebrafish models. Curriculum Vitae
  • Quentin Felty - Areas of research interest include: (i) molecular toxicological studies of the adverse effects of exposure to estrogen and estrogenic endocrine disruptors on the vascular system; (ii) the identification of novel estrogen redox signaling molecules; (iii) and the role of reactive oxygen species in angioproliferative disorders that impact pulmonary hypertension and breast cancer invasiveness. Curriculum Vitae
  • Tomás R. Guilarte - My laboratory is interested in understanding the role of environmental pollutants on neurological and neurodegenerative diseases and mental health. Our work is supported by funding from NIEHS related to environmental metals neurotoxicology (lead and manganese). Another major focus of our research has been to validate and apply Translocator Protein 18 kDa (TSPO) as an in vivo biomarker of brain injury and inflammation that is applicable to assess the effects of environmental chemicals on the CNS as well as to assess the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Recent studies are focused in understanding the function of TSPO in glial cells. Our work is multidisciplinary and we use methods ranging from behavior, to neuronal systems, cellular and molecular approaches including molecular imaging (Positron Emission Tomography to Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and primary culture of brain cells. Our ultimate goal is for our basic science studies to be translational and utilize the scientific findings to devise strategies to mitigate environmentally-induced neurological disease in the public health context and to change policy for the benefit of the public at large. Curriculum Vitae
  • Deodutta Roy - Application of Human Genomics to Public Health Sciences-molecular prevention. Areas of research interest include: Identifying the biological pathways by which reactive oxygen species (ROS) increase an individual’s susceptibility to develop aggressive antiestrogen-independent metastatic breast cancer via influencing a redox sensitive transcription factor - Nuclear Respiratory Factor-1 (NRF-1); Evaluation of pathoepigenetic/genetic mechanisms of glioblastoma and role of gene-endocrine disruptor interactions in brain health; Integrative stochastic modelling to identify biological pathways and networks contributing to the susceptibility of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases; Targeted stem cell nano therapy of cancer and other environmental chronic complex human diseases. Curriculum Vitae

Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management

  • Aaron Welch - Molecular and cellular biology of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. There are two focuses of the lab: understanding the causes and solutions to aging, and developing novel strains of yeast for commercial applications. The Welch lab uses genetic and biochemical methods, and collaborates with others professors/institutions to analyze metabolites, perform elemental analyses, and conduct high-throughput sequencing. Curriculum Vitae