Participating Faculty Members

The participating faculty are drawn from the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics, Biomedical Sciences, and reflect a wide diversity of research interests and expertise. Brief descriptions of the research areas represented by individual faculty members are summarized below.

Chemistry and Biochemistry


Name/Contact Info Research Topics

Rommie Amaro

Assoc. Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Amaro Research Group

Computational Chemistry and Biophysics

Timothy Baker

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Baker Research Group
Macromolecular, cryoelectron microscopy and three-dimensional, image-reconstruction techniques.

Seth Cohen

Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Cohen Research Group
Bioinorganic and coordination chemistry. Metalloprotein inhibitors and supramolecular materials.

Neal Devaraj

Assoc. Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Devaraj Research Group
Tetrazine Cycloadditions for bioorthogonal chemistry and functional materials. Imaging and in vivo chemistry

Gourisankar Ghosh

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Biochemistry and biophysics: transcription, signaling, pre-mRNA splicing, mRNA transport, protein-protein, protein-DNA and protein-RNA interactions.

Partho Ghosh

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Partho Ghosh Research Group
Mechanisms of bacterial and protozoan pathogenesis, and host response against infectious microbes.

Kamil Godula

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Godula Group
Nanotechnologies for analysis of glycan function during development. Glycomaterials for stem cell-based tissue regeneration

Thomas Hermann

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Hermann Lab
RNA as a Drug Target.

Patricia A. Jennings

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Bruno Zimm Scholar
Jennings Lab

Biophysical chemistry: protein structure, dynamics and folding; 2, 3 and 4D NMR spectroscopy; PCR; equilibrium and kinetic-fluorescence, absorbance and circular dichroism spectroscopies.

Simpson Joseph

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Joseph Lab
Biochemistry & Biophysics: ribosome structure, function and dynamics; discovery of novel antibiotics

Judy Kim

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Kim Research Group
Biophysical chemistry: Spectroscopic studies of membrane protein folding and dynamics

Elizabeth A. Komives

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
The Komives Lab
Structure, function, dynamics and thermodynamics of protein-protein interactions: NMR, mass spectrometry and kinetics

J. Andrew McCammon

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Joseph E. Mayer Chair of Theoretical Chemistry 
Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology 
Fellow, San Diego Supercomputer Center
McCammon Group
Statistical mechanics and computational chemistry, with applications to biological systems

Ulrich Muller

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Biochemistry: Evolution of catalytic RNAs, the Origin of Life

Joseph Noel

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Professor and Director, The Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics
Adjunct Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Division of Biology
Mechanistic and Structural Basis for Plant Metabolic Evolution

Stanley Opella

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
NMR structural studies of proteins in membranes and other supramolecular assemblies

Susan Taylor

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Professor of Pharmacology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Susan S. Taylor Lab
Structure, Function, Dynamics, and Localization of PKA as a Prototype for the Protein Kinase Superfamily.

Akif Tezcan

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Tezcan Lab
Bioinorganic and biophysical chemistry; Metalloprotein structure, function and biosynthesis; Biomaterials

Navtej Toor

Assoc. Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Structure and Function of Introns and Retroelements

Elizabeth Villa

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Villa Lab
Structural Cell Biology, Cryo-Electron Microscopy, Multiscale modeling

Ross Walker

Assistant Research Professor San Diego Supercomputer Center
Walker Lab
Computational chemistry, molecular biology and high performance computing. The lab is particularly interested in the development of efficient algorithms for parallel computation of Quantum Mechanical and hybrid Quantum/Molecular Mechanical (QM/MM) techniques as well as improvements in the computational efficiency and accuracy of classical MM dynamics simulations.

Wei Wang

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Wei Wang Research Group
Inference of gene regulatory networks and determination of protein specificity

Biomedical Sciences

Name/Contact Info Research Topics

Ruben Abagyan

Professor of Pharmacy
Our laboratory focuses on developing new methods and protocols for protein modeling, peptide and small molecule/drug docking, virtual ligand screening and applying those methods to discovering lead compounds for new protein targets.

Joe Adams

Professor of Pharmacology

Mechanism of protein phosphorylation, a posttranslational modification that drives most communication pathways in the cell.

Geoffrey Chang

Professor of Pharmacy
Structural biology of transporters

Kevin Corbett

Assistant Professor, Cell and Molecular Medicine; Head of Laboratory of Structural Biology at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research

Structural Biology Lab

We use biochemical and macromolecular structure tools to understand the organization of meiotic chromosomes, the regulation of meiotic DNA recombination to create crossovers, and the checkpoint mechanisms that monitor these events.

Peter Dorrestein

Professor of Pharmacy

Dorrestein Lab

Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics of Therapeutic Leads and Their Targets

Michael Gilson

Professor, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmecutal Science; Chari in Computer-Aided Drug Design, Co-Director UCSD Center for Drug Discovery Innovation
Gilson Lab
Computer-aided molecular design, physical chemistry of molecular recognition, drug discovery, host-guest chemistry, cheminformatics, simulations and molecular modeling.

Tracy Handel

Professor of Pharmacy
Chemokines, G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), glycosaminoglycans, cancer, structural biology, biophysics

Andres Leschziner

Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
The Lechziner Lab
Chromatin dynamics and intracellular transport: Movement of cytoplasmic dynein and mechanism of ATP-dependent nucleosome remodeling.

Roger Sunahara

Professor of Pharmacology
Mechanism of cell signaling in the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) field.

Palmer Taylor

Sandra & Monroe Trout Professor of Pharmacology
Neuropharmacology; Gene Expression; Cholinergic Receptors; Acetylcholinesterase

Dong Wang

Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Wang Lab
Molecular Mechanisms of DNA Damage Processing Pathways

Jin Zhang

Professor of Pharmacology

Spatiotemporal regulation of signal transduction


Name/Contact Info Research Topics

Olga Dudko

Assistant Professor of Physics
Dudko Lab
Motivated to discover physical rules that govern biological processes, we develop and apply methods of statistical physics to study living systems, arguably the most complex ones around. Currently, we are interested in the single-molecule approach which captures the dynamics of life at the scale of biological macromolecules, elucidating details that are typically lost when studied with traditional ('bulk') approaches. Our methods are analytical and numerical.

Douglas Smith

Associate Professor of Physics
Mechanical manipulation and imaging of single DNA molecules; Viral DNA packaging in bacteriophages phi29, lambda, and T4; Function of ATP-dependent molecular motors; Single polymer dynamics (polymer physics, DNA properties, rheology); Chromatin assembly and structure; Enzyme mediated DNA looping; Restriction endonuclease function; Physics of knot formation

Steering Committee

  • Dr. Elizabeth Komives-Co-P.I.
  • Dr. Tracy Handel-Co-P.I.
  • Dr. Susan Taylor-Member
  • Dr. J. Andrew McCammon-Member
  • Dr. Nav Toor-Member
  • Dr. Doug Smith-Member