Faculty Research

James Bamburg
James Bamburg - Professor
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
The cytoskeleton and neurodegenerative disease
Role of the actin cytoskeleton in neuronal growth and regeneration, pathfinding, and in neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer disease. Signal transduction mechanisms controlling actin filament dynamics and cell behavior.

Chaoping Chen
Chaoping Chen - Associate Professor
Ph.D., Purdue University
Molecular and Cell Biology of Retrovirus Assembly and Budding
HIV-1 protease autoprocessing mechanism and drug discovery

Robert Cohen
Robert Cohen - Professor
Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley
Recognition and metabolism of polyubiquitin protein modifications
Molecular recognition and protein-protein interactions as applied to ubiquitin biochemistry and ubiquitin-proteasome mediated protein degradation.

Jennifer DeLuca
Jennifer DeLuca - Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation
Our research focuses on understanding how accurate chromosome segregation is achieved in mitosis. We are analyzing the molecular architecture of the kinetochore-microtubule interface in vertebrate cells and studying how proteins and protein complexes at this interface drive and regulate chromosome movements.

Santiago Di Pietro
Santiago Di Pietro - Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Buenos Aires
Molecular Mechanisms of Intracellular Protein Transport
The goal of this laboratory is to understand the molecular bases of human diseases that affect the biogenesis of intracellular organelles as well as the endocytic process.

Jeffrey Hansen
Jeffrey Hansen - Professor
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Higher Order Chromatin Structure and Chromatin Architectural Proteins
Our research is focused on elucidating the structure/function relationships of the chromatin fiber. My laboratory has pioneered the use of analytical ultracentrifugation and quantitative agarose gel electrophoresis to yield unique information about the secondary and tertiary structures of chromatin fibers, and the architectural chromatin binding proteins that modulate these structures in solution.

P. Shing Ho
P. Shing Ho - Professor
Ph.D., Northwestern University
Nucleic acid structure and function; Biomolecular halogen bonds
The research interests in our laboratory focus on the structures and structural gymnastics of nucleic acids. More recently, we have been developing both nucleic acid and protein model systems to characterize a set of interactions called halogen bonds, which contribute significantly to the specificity and affinity of large classes of halogenated ligands used as inhibitors and as drugs. We apply crystallographic, molecular modeling, and physical biochemical approaches to study these problems.

Paul Laybourn
Paul Laybourn - Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Davis
The Mechanism of Eukaryotic Transcriptional Regulation in a Chromatin Context
We are using the promoters of human retrovirus HTLV-1 LTR and the yeast PHO5 gene as models in these studies. We are employing both in vivo (genetic, molecular genetic), and in vitro (biochemical) approaches. We are particularly interested in the role of eukaryotic gene expression dysregulation in cancer.

Steven Markus
Steven Markus - Assistant Professor
Ph.D., New York University Medical Center
Molecular Motors and Cell Division
The research in our lab is focused on how various molecules conspire to assemble and orient the mitotic spindle apparatus prior to cell division. We pay particularly close attention to various classes of molecular motors -- nano-sized ATP-powered machines -- and how they are regulated to perform their myriad functions during cell division.

Brian McNaughton
Brian McNaughton - Associate Professor of Chemistry, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Ph.D., University of Rochester
Macromolecular engineering, evolution, and discovery
The use of engineering, high-throughput screening, and evolution to expand the scope and utility of proteins and assembled protein nanoreagents in catalysis, drug discovery, and intracellular drug delivery.

Jennifer Nyborg
Jennifer Nyborg - Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside
Transcriptional Deregulation in Leukemia Cells
During the last several years, the human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) has become increasingly recognized as an important cause for public health concern throughout the world. HTLV-I is the causative agent of a variety of clinical diseases, including an aggressive and fatal cancer called adult T-cell leukemia, and a neurological disorder that is clinically very similar to multiple sclerosis. A large body of evidence suggests that the clinical manifestations of HTLV-I infection occur as a consequence of a virally-encoded protein called Tax. My laboratory focuses on defining the intracellular consequences of Tax expression in the infected human cell, with emphasis on the Tax-dependent events that lead to malignant transformation.

Erin Osborne Nishimura
Erin Osborne Nishimura - Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Gene expression in developing embryos
My lab is interested in how mRNA transcripts are regulated at the single-cell and sub-cellular levels in developing embryos. We use a combination of experimental and computational approaches in the animal model C. elegans to examine the mechanisms and consequences of mRNA regulation.

Olve Peersen
Olve Peersen - Professor
Ph.D., Yale University
RNA dependent RNA polymerases and viral replication complexes
The picornaviruses are a family of small positive sense single stranded RNA viruses that cause a wide range of diseases in humans and animals. These include the rhinoviruses that cause the common cold and poliovirus, the prototypical member of this family. We are interested in understanding the molecular details of picornaviral replication and are using structural biology and biophysical techniques to determine the structure of viral proteins and study their interactions.

Jessica Prenni
Jessica Prenni - Joint Faculty, Associate Professor, Director Of Research Core Facilities, Director of Proteomics & Metabolomics Facility
Ph.D., University of Colorado
Mass Spectrometry Based Proteomics and Metabolomics
Proteomics and Metabolomics are fields of scientific study which combine techniques in purification and separation, mass spectrometry and bioinformatics. In our lab we utilize these tools for the identification and characterization of proteins and small molecules in a variety of biological systems.

Eric Ross
Eric Ross - Associate Professor & Associate Chair for Graduate Studies
Ph.D., Mayo Graduate School
Yeast prions as a model for amyloid diseases
Numerous diseases including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and transmissible spongiform encephalopathies are associated with protein misfolding into ordered aggregates, called amyloid fibrils. We are using yeast prions as a model system for examining the causes and consequences of amyloid fibril formation.

Thomas Santangelo
Tom Santangelo - Associate Professor
Ph.D., Cornell University
Mechanisms and regulation of archaeal transcription
Members of the Archaea often occupy unique, harsh, and ever-changing biological niches. These changing environments necessitate precise and timely regulation of gene expression. Our laboratory focuses on the regulation of transcription, from a global perspective to a detailed structure-function analysis of the archaeal RNA polymerase. Many Archaea can also produce bio-hydrogen and our laboratory is focused on a rational metabolic-engineering effort to generate strains with altered hydrogen production levels.

Christopher Snow
Christopher Snow - Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Ph.D., Stanford University
Nanomaterials, Physical, Biomolecular, and Theoretical Chemistry
Computational design, simulation, and experimental validation of new enzymes, and crystalline biomolecular assemblies. We convert porous protein crystals into “3D molecular pegboards” for the controlled assembly of nanoparticles, enzymes, fluorescent proteins, oligonucleotides, and other functional molecules.

Laurie Stargell
Laurie Stargell - Professor & Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies
Ph.D., University of Rochester
Mechanisms of Gene Expression
Transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II involves a highly regulated series of events dependent upon many protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions. By combining yeast genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysical techniques, we are using a multi-faceted approach to understand the functions of the transcription machinery in the chromatin context of living cells.

Tim Stasevich
Tim Stasevich - Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Maryland
Regulation of eukaryotic gene expression by post-translational modifications
We study how post-translational modifications to chromatin and the transcription machinery contribute to eukaryotic gene expression. These marks have traditionally been difficult to study in vivo because they change throughout the lifetime of a protein. This makes them especially hard to specifically label, track, and quantify. My lab is pioneering new optical, genetic, and biophysical techniques to overcome this challenge and see first hand how specific sets of modifications alter the transcriptional output of single copy genes in single living cells.

Michael Tamkun
Michael Tamkun - Joint Faculty, Professor Of Physiology
Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle
Regulation of Muscle Electrical Excitability at Both the Cellular and Molecular Levels
The long-term objective of the Tamkun laboratory is to understand the regulation of muscle electrical excitability at both the cellular and molecular levels. Research in the lab revolves around five general themes: (1) cloning of new ion channels from cardiac and vascular muscle (2) identification of channel domains involved in protein-protein interactions, (3) examination of the signaling mechanisms/cellular processes that control ion channel function and tissue/cell-specific expression, ( 4) characterization of mechanisms responsible for channel cell surface localization, and (5) elucidation of the physiological role that a given channel plays within a particular tissue.

Tingting Yao
Tingting Yao - Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Iowa
Regulation of Gene Expression and Chromatin Dynamics by Ubiquitin Conjugation & Deconjugation
Our lab studies the interface between the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and transcriptional regulation. Modification of components of the transcription machinery by ubiquitin can serve as a regulatory switch that both activate and limit gene expression. We are using a variety of biochemical and genetic approaches to define the molecular mechanisms that underlie these seemingly opposite processes.