My official department
My slightly less official page on the companion biochemistry-oriented site.
We are interested in the structure, function, and design of protein-DNA complexes, focusing on the 50-1000 bp length scale. This is the biologically-relevant domain of multi-protein DNA complexes, DNA looping, chromatin, and DNA topology. We study the shapes of protein-nucleic acid complexes and DNA loops, the functional consequences of changes in shape, and the design and control of DNA and protein-DNA shape. We use molecular biology techniques like DNA ring closure, electrophoretic mobility shift assays, and footprinting to guide hypotheses, and then move on to characterization with fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), single-molecule FRET, and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Accomplishments in this area include the identification of negatively supercoiled minicircles upon ring closure of short fragments bound by the TATA box binding protein (TBP), which led to a proposal on the coupling between chromatin remodeling during transcriptional activation and enhanced TBP binding. We also showed that DNA loops anchored by the Lac repressor can exist in at least two conformations that are distinguishable by bulk and single-molecule FRET. This has recently been expanded to include a systematic looping landscape that should provide valuable constraints for systems biology models of transcriptional regulation. Functional studies of gene regulation in bacteria complement our in vitro work. We have recently designed the world's smallest and stiffest DNA looping proteins, based on a coiled coil motif. Currently we are excited about designing DNA and proteins to form self-assembled protein-DNA nanostructures. Finally, we have applied interests in the hybridization thermodynamics of oligonucleotides containing modified chemistries, with an eye to improving the use of nucleic acids in diagnostics and therapeutics.
Current publication list including links to collaborators.
More detail: Here are two very large PDF files (1) and (2) that outline much of our work in the context of the field. These are informal, not comprehensive; I welcome any feedback you may have. Earlier versions were originally presented at a workshop at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), Univ. of Minnesota. This rather outdated but still illustrative PDF research description, and for historical curiousity an even older brief research description/resume are still available.
Practical applications of nucleic acid thermodynamics are done in collaboration with Celadon Laboratories, Inc.
I am an advisor to the UMaryland iGEM team, which was awarded a gold medal their first time competing in the 2014 International Genetically Engineered Machines Giant Jamboree.
I teach several general chemistry, biochemistry, and special interest courses. Here is a collection of general teaching resources, including figures created for several courses, and instructions, examples, and tutorials for Jmol/Rasmol/Pymol-based viewing of biomolecule PDB files. For recent courses, lecture notes and other resources are available mainly through the ELMS system.
Chemistry 271, General Chemistry and Energetics: Syllabus.This is a course covering the traditional material for the second half of general chemistry, but given in the fourth semester of the undergraduate series, after organic chemistry instead of before. I also include special topics applications like DNA hybridization thermodynamics and the redox reactions driving anaerobic metabolism.
I occasionally teach a graduate biochemistry elective (BCHM 673) on regulatory networks, which most recently included modules on bacterial chemotaxis, gene regulation by nuclear hormone receptors and connections to Hsp90, G proteins and GPCRs, signal transduction in diabetes, and the principles of regulatory networks a la Alon.
At various times I have taught Biochem 461 (Biomolecules and Enzymes), 463 (Biochemistry and Physiology), 465 (Biological Information Processing), and parts of 462 (Metabolism).
An archive of past exams for all of my chemistry and biochemistry courses. Use at your own risk.
I do not actively maintain links on these older pages, and some course materials were provided primarily through Blackboard and are not available here.
Biochemistry research here at the University of Maryland.
The Molecular and Cell Biology Program, now morphed into the MOCB Concentration Area in the umbrella BISI graduate program.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This page is designed using various tools, primarily Dreamweaver and hand-coding. Fossil remains of the code date to 1994.