Biochemistry, Structural & Molecular Biology

College

College of Life Sciences

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Campus

Center City

Format

On Campus

Duration

4 - 5 Years

Research

The BSMB program is unique in providing integrative training from atoms to living organisms. The major goal of the program is to train scientific leaders who can generate new mechanistic insights that are relevant to human disease and the development of novel therapeutic approaches that improve the human condition.

The program draws its faculty from multiple departments at Thomas Jefferson University including Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Pharmacology, Physiology, and Cancer Biology; Microbiology & Immunology; Surgery; Radiation Oncology; Neuroscience; Medicine and Pathology, Anatomy & Cell Biology. BSMB trainees are therefore exposed to diverse disciplines under the umbrella of modern biochemistry.

The scientific foci of the BSMB program can be divided into four broad research areas: Biochemical Mechanisms of Cellular Function, Molecular & Biochemical Pathology, Cellular & Molecular Signaling, and Protein Structure & Dynamics.

Within the broad area of Biochemical Mechanisms of Cellular Function, faculty investigate fundamental processes that play critical roles in normal cellular functions, such as DNA repair, nucleocytoplasmic transport, transcription, as well as mechanisms that control cellular differentiation and organismal development.

Within the broad area of Molecular & Biochemical Pathology, faculty investigate molecular and biochemical processes in diseases, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and host-pathogen interactions.

Within the broad area of Cellular and Molecular Signaling, faculty investigate mechanisms of signaling in health and disease including G-protein coupled receptor signaling, protein kinase and second messenger signaling, the regulation of cell-cell communication, and the role of signaling in development, differentiation, and disease.

Within the broad area of Protein Structure and Dynamics, faculty investigate the 3-dimensional structures of proteins with emphasis on membrane proteins, mechanisms that control protein folding, how proteins misfold and aggregate in neurodegenerative disease, as well as disease-linked drug/target interactions.

Areas of Research Principal Investigators
Host-pathogen interactions Cingolani, DeblerHickok, Paumet, Ramage, Schnell, Tyagi
Cancer signaling Alnemri, AplinBenovic, Bussard, Calabretta, CingolaniDebler, Dicker, Eischen, Grabocka, Kirino, Languino, Mahoney, Mazo, McMahon, Meyer, South, Summer, Uitto, Van de Wetering, Waldman, WedegaertnerWickstrom
Cell differentiation, development, and death Alnemri, Aplin, Calabretta, Choi, Dalva, Debler, Eischen, Farber, Forsberg, Jaynes, L. Ma, Mazo, Rigoutsos, Scott
Chromosome structure/function and epigenetics Debler, Eischen, Mazo, McMahon, Temiakov
DNA replication/repair and genome stability Eischen, Naik, Scott
Neurodegeneration Hou, KajiRigoutsos, Wickstrom
Protein folding, misfolding and aggregation Hickok, Rigoutsos, Scott, Van de Wetering, Zhang
Protein structure and molecular enzymology  Debler, Eischen, Kaji, Naik, Scott, Wickstrom
Protein targeting & trafficking Naik, Sun, Van de Wetering  
RNA biology Grabocka, Guo, Hou, Ibrahim, Kirino
Signaling pathways Benovic, Cingolani, Dalva, Grabocka, Hoek, P. Ma, Naik, Penn, Raqif, Sun, Vadigepalli, Waldman, WedegaertnerWickstrom, Winter
Transcriptional regulation Debler, Jaynes, Mazo, McMahon, Merry, Trizzino

In addition to the broad thematic areas of research listed above, investigators in the BSMB program provide students with training opportunities in methodologies that prepare them for research careers in academia and in the pharmaceutical world. These include advanced training in: i) cryo-electron microscopy single-particle analysis to investigate the structure of protein complexes and membrane proteins under quasi-physiological conditions, ii) confocal, two-photon, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) and stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy to study protein dynamics and subcellular localization of proteins in cells under normal conditions or as cells are perturbed by investigational treatments; iii) gene targeting approaches to define genotype/phenotype relationships that elucidate mechanisms that cause disease; and iv) genomic/proteomic platforms to assess changes associated with pathological conditions of interest.

 

BSMB investigators use a spectrum of model organisms in their research including bacteria, yeast, Drosophila and mice. This provides the BSMB scientific community with models that are well suited to advance the pace of scientific discovery as well as a path leading to clinical trials. BSMB program members are well positioned to advance their findings into the clinic and the program has a strong “bench to bedside” component. The ability to study biology from atoms to in vivo model systems and to advance findings to the clinic represent major strengths of the BSMB program.