The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is dedicated to the education of medical and graduate students in biochemistry, molecular biology and nutrition, research training in these areas, and discovery through cutting-edge research in the broad discipline of biochemistry. Biochemistry research is globally directed toward understanding cellular processes at the molecular level, and has traditionally encompassed studies of biomolecules such as proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.
Biochemistry research at the College of Medicine is in part driven by analytical technologies and instrumentation, such as protein production and purification, spectroscopy, structure analysis, mass spectrometry, and biosensor-based protein-protein interaction analysis. Molecular and cell biology are the major experimental approaches that complement biochemistry and enable the elucidation of cellular processes at the biochemical level.
Through major recruitment over the past seven years, the department consists of 17 faculty, including four full-time educators and 13 independent laboratory heads, bringing in almost $5 million in total grant support per year. The research focus of the department is in two general areas, cancer biology and macromolecular structure-function. My vision was to develop two to three cohesive themes uniting the diverse interests of the four founding laboratories (Jorns, Jameson, Nickels and Clifford). The underlying principles in rebuilding the department plan have been:
- There is tremendous power in applying diverse approaches to a scientific problem, specifically the application of different biochemical and structural analyses to questions relating to cellular processes
- Research development should be focused on human disease
- Knowledge about basic biochemical processes will lead to new therapies
Research at the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
The major disease focus has been cancer. Cancer is a multifaceted disease, and basic biochemical/molecular research on a broad range of cellular processes has been extremely powerful in understanding cancer biology—from transformation, to metastasis, to response to treatment; hence cancer biology is a "big tent" under which many disparate areas of inquiry can be united and focused.
The cancer biology research program has particular emphasis on:
- Control of cell proliferation (Clifford, Noguchi, Reginato)
- DNA replication (Noguchi, Nickels)
- Transcription (Clifford, Bouchard)
- Signal transduction (Clifford, Bouchard, Reginato)
- Apoptosis (Bouchard, Reginato, Clifford), viral carcinogenesis (Bouchard, Clifford)
- DNA repair (Mazin, Clifford)
A second research theme is directed toward understanding structure-function relationships in biological macromolecules. This includes studies of:
- Membrane proteins (Loll, Chaiken,White)
- Receptor-ligand interactions (Chaiken, Loll, Jameson White)
- Enzymology and drug design (Jorns, Loll, Mazin, Chaiken, Jameson, White)
- Post-translational protein modifications (Clifford, Bouchard)
- Molecular-level studies of specific diseases, including HIV and hepatitis (Chaiken, Bouchard, Cocklin), diabetes (Jameson), sepsis (Loll), and neurodegenerative disease (Loll)
Another initiative that has arisen from this approach is in the development of small molecule inhibitors (Loll, Jameson, Chaiken, Mazin), including development of new antibiotics (Loll, Jorns, Jameson).
Meet Our Faculty - Eishi Noguchi, PhD
"I am interested in DNA damage response. One example of DNA damage is when you go outside, you are exposed to ultraviolet rays (UV). You might enjoy the sunshine but the UV cuts your DNA. When you drink alcohol, it converts into something very toxic that also cuts your DNA. That is acetaldehyde, which also causes hangovers. I'm interested in how our bodies fix that kind of DNA damage..."
Read more from Dr. Noguchi
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News & Announcements
2018 Faculty Awards
Congratulations to Mauricio Reginato, PhD, recipient of the Elias Abrutyn Mentoring Award. See all 2018 faculty awardees.
On April 10, faculty and staff were recognized for excellence in teaching and outstanding service at the 2018 Golden Apple Award Ceremony.
Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics PhD Maya Rao recently published "Interaction between the AAA+ ATPase p97 and its cofactor ataxin3 in health and disease: Nucleotide-induced conformational changes regulate cofactor binding" in the November issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (February 2018)
A College of Medicine study reveals an unexpected function of the homologous recombination protein Rad52 and may help to identify new therapeutic targets for cancer. (June 8, 2017)
The Golden Apple Awards recognize excellence in teaching and outstanding service by faculty and staff of Drexel University College of Medicine.
2017 CURE Awardees
The following faculty members were the recipients of 2017 CURE grant awards:
- Michael Bouchard, PhD (co-investigator): A Novel In Vitro 3D Liver Sinusoid Model for Hepatitis B Virus Studies
- Adel Ahmed, PhD (investigator) and Irwin Chaiken, PhD (co-investigator): Advancement of First-in-Class Macrocyclic HIV-1 Inactivators for Therapeutics and Cure
- Mauricio Reginato, PhD (investigator): O-GlcNAc Regulation of Acetate Metabolism in Glioblastoma
See all 2017 CURE awardees.
In the Media
"A Blueprint for Healing"
Related Faculty: Alexander Mazin, PhD
College of Medicine Alumni Magazine (Fall/Winter 2016)
"Teaming Up to Fight Brain Tumors"
Related Faculty: Mauricio Reginato, PhD
College of Medicine Alumni Magazine (Fall/Winter 2016)
"New Protein Structure Holds Answers to PKU"
Related Faculty: Patrick J. Loll, PhD
Pulse (Summer 2016)
"$75K Campbell Grant to Study Long-Acting Treatment That Targets HIV Reservoirs"
Related Faculty: Irwin Chaiken, PhD
POZ Magazine (May 4, 2016)
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