PhD Program

We’re one of the few programs in the country that trains in structure/function—where students learn at the molecular level and from the ground up to find the cause and cure of disease. In our program, students take the lead in their research and frequently collaborate with different labs. And the research? It’s cutting-edge in a supportive environment. See how we train the next generation of biochemists.

Research Interest Areas

  • DNA Biochemistry
  • RNA Biochemistry
  • Lipids, lipoproteins, membrane transport,
    membrane structure and function
  • Protein structural biochemistry and biophysics
  • Mechanisms of signal transduction
  • Enzyme catalysis and regulation
  • Glycobiology, vaccine and antifungal

Let’s Talk About our Two Nobels in Chemistry

Considered the most prestigious award in the world, the Nobel Prize was given to two faculty in the Department of Biochemistry. In 2015, Dr. Paul Modrich received the Nobel in Chemistry for his mechanistic studies in DNA repair and in 2012, Dr. Robert Lefkowitz won the Nobel in Chemistry for his discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family G protein-coupled receptors.

The Zhou Lab 2019

Lab Spotlight

The Zhou Lab elucidates the connections among the structure, dynamics, and function of protein–protein and protein–ligand complexes and their roles in various cellular processes. Current efforts focus on protein complexes involved in bacterial membrane biosynthesis, co-transcriptional regulation, and translesion DNA synthesis using NMR, crystallography, cryoEM and enzymology. The Zhou lab has also played a major role in the development and application of innovative NMR technologies, including automated resonance assignment and high-resolution, high-dimensional spectral reconstruction from sparsely sampled data.

Recent News

A close collaboration between the Yang Lab, the Mikati Lab at Duke Pediatrics and the Cui Lab at Washington University, St. Louis uncovered the molecular pathophysiology of a new human BK channel mutation associated with dystonia, and discovered novel therapeutics to mitigate this common movement disorder. Read about their finding in Movement Disorders...

Brady solved the structures of the transcription complexes that control Francisella tularensis’ virulence. Read more about his research

Biochemistry leadership writes two statements; on racial inequality and celebrating pride month. Read more

To combat antibiotic resistance, Drs. Seok-Yong Lee and Ellene Mashalidis wrote a review paper to describe several recent structures of MraY and its human paralog, GlcNAc-1-P-transferase, providing critical paths forward for the design of potent and selective MraY inhibitors. Read more