The Molecular Biosciences Cluster comprises faculty with interests at the molecular level (that is, at the cellular level and below). Molecular Biosciences includes focus areas in 1) Genetics, Genomics, and Computational Biology, 2) Microbiology, and 3) Structural Biology and Biophysics. This cluster uses a wide variety of experimental approaches ranging from X-ray crystallography, NMR, Cryo-electron microscopy, electron tomography, and spectroscopic techniques for examining and determining molecular structures, to molecular biological, genetic, and genomic techniques for studying genes, genomes, and proteomes, to computational techniques as they apply to nucleic acid and protein structures, bioinformatics, genomics and systems biology.
Graduate students in the Molecular Biosciences cluster necessarily come from diverse backgrounds, since few undergraduate programs provide broad training opportunities in areas such as structural or computational biology. We provide training to students with undergraduate backgrounds ranging from biology and molecular biology to chemistry, physics, and computer science, and encourage applications from students with backgrounds outside of traditional biology programs.
Research in the Molecular Bioscience cluster, includes topics such as the determination of protein and nucleic acid structures, the structure and mechanism of protein and RNA enzymes (including proteins involved in cancer), membrane biochemistry and the structure of membrane proteins, structures of macromolecular complexes, study of the structure and mechanism of viruses (including emerging pathogens such as West Nile and Dengue viruses), experimental and computational investigation of macromolecular interactions, regulation of gene expression by epigenetic mechanisms such as chromosomal and nucleosomal structure, the structure and function of plant cell walls and cytoskeleton, response of cells to high salinity stress, microbial pathogens and methods for detecting pathogens, bioenergy production from plants and microbes, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, systematics, and computational systems biology and other topics at the interface of experiment and computation. Faculty and students in the Molecular Biosciences group participate in a large number of interdisciplinary activities including the Center for Cancer Research, Center for Basic and Applied Membrane Sciences, Energy Center, and the Markey Center for Structural Biology.