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Whereas, traditional programs emphasize single-discipline training, our Chemical Biology area emphasizes a highly interdisciplinary research and training program aimed at the development and integration of modern chemical methods to understand biological problems at the molecular level. Examples of some of these interdisciplinary research areas are given below. Recent technological breakthroughs, including advances in molecular biology, computational chemistry, and single cell/molecule detection, to name a few, are presenting spectacular new opportunities to address problems in pharmacology, cell biology, structural biology, and medicine.
Bioanalytical & Biomaterials Chemistry
Chemical Biology is one of the fastest growing areas of science today. Bioanalytical Chemists are on the front line of this exciting field, developing new techniques that allow us to study aspects of biology unattainable using existing methods. Whether it's analyzing individual cells or organelles, studying the redox properties of enzymes, designing novel nanomaterials, or measuring neurochemistry as it occurs, we are pushing the limits of science and technology.
Computational resources at the University of Minnesota, the home of the Supercomputing Institute, are state-of-the-art. Researchers in this area are carrying out theoretical and computational studies of the structure, reactivity, and dynamics of biomolecules in solution. These methods are being applied to challenging problems in RNA catalysis, protein-nucleic acid interactions and mechanistic enzymology.
Design and Synthesis
Researchers at the University of Minnesota are applying traditional and novel methods in organic and inorganic syntheses to problems at the forefront of Chemical Biology. Researchers in this area are developing syntheses of potent anti-cancer and tumor-promoting natural products, developing chemical methods for synthesis of peptides and small proteins, engineering designer proteins, mimicking metalloprotein active sites and examining reactivity of model complexes.
Enzymes are the chemical workhorses of the cell. They are responsible for catalyzing thousands of chemical reactions that make life possible. Researchers at the University of Minnesota use a combination of biochemical, inorganic, and synthetic organic chemistry to study how these fascinating catalysts function at the molecular level. Insights gained from enzyme chemistry at Minnesota are providing new ideas in many fields ranging from cancer therapy to catalysis.
Structure & Spectroscopy
State-of-the-art facilities in Structural Biology make the University of Minnesota an excellent choice for the Biological Chemist who wishes to correlate detailed molecular structure with biological function. Researchers are using fluorescence, IR, Raman, EPR, and NMR spectroscopies to study exciting problems and protein-RNA interactions, HIV, membrane-bound proteins, and metalloproteins.
Understanding the structure and function of nucleic acids and designing novel functions of these versatile biomolecules are major goals of a number of research groups in the chemical biology specialty area. Researchers are interested in gaining a fundamental understanding of translation of the genetic code, DNA condensation, developing new analytical tools to advance in vitro selection (SELEX) of novel DNA- and RNA-based therapeutics, RNA-protein interactions in HIV, development of DNA-based sensors and nanoelectronic devices, and computational approaches to study RNA catalysis.