Biochemistry is the study of the molecular basis of cellular function. It has evolved into the common language for translating the advances of molecular biology into cellular and chemical terms. In the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, we study a broad range of cellular activities, from gene transcription to the structure and function of proteins, DNA, RNA, and lipid membranes. Like all biologists, we attempt to correlate structure with function, but at a molecular level of detail, defining not only the structures that govern function, but also the chemical reactions involved.
The field of biochemistry brings together the areas of molecular genetics, cell biology, and each of these headings can be further subdivided into the classical areas of enzymology; structure and function of nucleic acid proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids; metabolism; and biogenetics.
Our faculty provides students and postdoctoral fellows with a research experience aimed at understanding fundamental mechanisms and the structural basis of cellular processes. The advances of the next decade will rely on a blend of structural biology, molecular biology, and molecular genetics. We integrate these fields on topics that span from regulation of gene expression and chromatin structure, to cell signaling, cell cycle control, RNA, and protein structure and function, and receptor-ligand or enzyme-substrate interactions. We utilize prokaryotic, nematode, and mammalian model systems and incorporate advanced genomics and proteomics approaches and instrumentation. We encourage you to contact us and visit our website and state of the art facilities, and learn more about research programs and graduate education.
Dr. Raza Shaikh received a NIH R01 entitled "Suppressing inflammation and boosting humoral immunity with n-3 PUFAs". This award is a 5-year, $1.65 million award. Also, he and Dr. David Brown received a R15 entitled “Treatment of cardiac reperfusion injury by optimizing the mitochondrial membrane.” This award collaboration is a 3-year, $434,202 award to study new ways to treat mitochondria during a heart attack.
Dr. Myles Cabot has received $282,370 for his third year of research (2016). He is working on a five year multi-million dollar collaborative grant from National Cancer Institute. Dr. Cabot, in his studies of various partnering agents, has discovered that tamoxifen, the gold standard anti-estrogen used in treatment of ER+ breast cancer, inhibits ceramide glycosylation and ceramide hydrolysis, the major metabolic pathways used by cancer cells to limit ceramide's apn>optotic impact. In addition, in place of using ceramide-generating agents (such as 4-HPR), the group has been exploring administration of cell-permeable, short-chain ceramides, in nanoliposomal formulations, a collaborative effort between ECU, UVA Charlottesville, and Penn State Hershey Cancer Center.
Dr. Carol Witczak, Assistant Professor AAH Kinesiology and Dr. Tonya Zeczycki, Assistant Professor ECDOI (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) are researching Calmodulin Kinases and control of skeletal muscle glucose metabolism as a result of a multi-year award from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease. The award is $330,000 each year for five years.