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 of G protein-coupled receptors.

Bartesaghi Lab

Lab Spotlight

The Bartesaghi Lab works closely with researchers from the School of Medicine and the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences to computationally determine the structure of macromolecular complexes using high-resolution, single particle Cryo-EM, Cryo-ET, and sub-volume averaging.  They were the first to visualize atomic resolution features in density maps and regularly incorporate geometric constraints into the refinement of image orientations, so structures can be determined at significantly higher resolutions than using conventional refinement techniques. Bartesaghi “art” has graced the covers of multiple scientific journals.

Recent News

New research from Blanca Rodriguez and Meta Kuehn, PhD, reports the presence of RNA and DNA molecules in extracellular membrane vesicles secreted by the human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus and reveals a novel mechanism of host-pathogen interactions. Read more

In Nucleic AcidResearch, Drs. Hala Abou Assi, Christopher Holley, Hashim Al-Hashimi and team unveil that 2'-O-methylation (Nm) preferentially stabilizes alternative secondary structures where Nm-modified nucleotides are paired, increasing the abundance and lifetime of low-populated short-lived excited states up to 10-fold. Read more

Duke's Advanced Professional Degree Consulting Club's Jason Arne teamed up with Richard Hollenbach to do a two-on-two interview with Duke Grad School alums and Boston Consulting Group consultants, Drs. Billy Gerhard and Dane Sequeira. Learn how they became interested in consulting and why a PhD is a good fit for BCG. Read more

Skyler develops and tests novel inhibitors of LpxH and investigates how to improve the permeation of antibiotics across the double membrane of highly infectious, gram-negative bacteria.

Read more about her research