The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is dedicated to the education of medical and graduate students in biochemistry, molecular biology and nutrition. Researchers in our highly interactive department utilize cutting-edge techniques to discover the molecular basis of disease, including research focused on cancer, infectious disease and aging.
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 major experimental approaches complementing biochemistry and enable the elucidation of cellular processes at the biochemical level related to human disease.
The department consists of 12 faculty, including 2 full-time educators and 10 independent laboratory heads, with externally funded programs. Our outstanding faculty and their exceptional teams of research scientists, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students and undergraduate researchers are key to our success. The collaborative nature of the department and the wide array of scientific approaches, from structural biology and biophysical methods, to cell biology and animal studies, contribute to the exciting research environment.
Our department has a long history of outstanding educational programs for both PhD and MS candidates. Our graduate programs include:
Our research-intensive graduate programs offer high quality mentored research experiences. These train our students to be successful scientists and independent thinkers, prepared for a variety of careers. Students from our programs hold careers in a range of scientific areas including academic and industry research, teaching roles, government positions and science writing and policy.
We continue to expand the department by hiring additional faculty with interests in new areas of biochemistry and molecular biology, afforded by the rapid expansion of technical capabilities and new discoveries in basic biology.
Research at the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Our major disease focus has been on 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. Cancer biology is a "big tent" under which many disparate areas of inquiry can be united and focused.
The cancer biology research program emphasizes:
- Control of cell proliferation (Bouchard, Noguchi, Reginato)
- Signal transduction (Bouchard, Noguchi, Reginato)
- DNA replication and repair (Berkowitz, Noguchi)
- Cancer metabolism (Reginato, Bouchard)
- Metastasis (Reginato)
- Computational biology (Somarowthu)
- Transcription and epigenetics (Bouchard, Reginato, Noguchi, Sell, Somarowthu)
- Apoptosis (Bouchard, Reginato, Noguchi)
- Aging (Noguchi, Sell)
- Viral carcingogenesis (Bouchard)
A second research theme is directed toward understanding structure-function relationships in biological macromolecules. This includes studies of:
- Membrane proteins (Loll, Chaiken)
- Cytoskeleton and signal integration (Padrick)
- Receptor-ligand interactions (Chaiken, Loll)
- Enzymology and drug design (Loll, Chaiken)
- Post-translational protein modifications (Bouchard, Noguchi, Reginato, Strochlic)
- Molecular-level studies of specific diseases, including:
- HIV and hepatitis (Chaiken, Abrams, Bouchard)
- Malaria (Vaidya)
- Sepsis (Loll)
- Neurodegenerative disease (Loll, Saunders)
- Aging (Noguchi, Sell)
- Infertility and developmental defects (Berkowitz, Strochlich)
Another initiative arising from this approach is in the development of small molecule inhibitors (Loll, Chaiken, Reginato), including development of new antibiotics (Loll).
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
Faculty Receive W.W. Smith Grant
Congratulations to Dr. Eishi Noguchi who received a W.W. Smith Charitable Trust grant to support his project: "Timeless-mediated augmentation of DNA repair in esophageal carcinogenesis."
Giang Le Minh Receives Dean’s Fellowship
Congratulations to Giang Le Minh, a PhD student in Dr. Mauricio Reginato's lab, for receiving the Spring 2022 Dean's Fellowship for Excellence in Collaborative or Themed Research. The fellowship provides Giang with financial support for six months in the form of a scholarship, stipend and supplies and/or attendance at conferences.
Faculty Receive NIH-R03 Grant
Congratulations to Dr. Karen Berkowitz, who received a NIH R03 grant to support her project: "Generation and characterization of a novel mouse line to elucidate CHTF18 function in male and female meiosis."
Welcome Dr. Jessica Chen
We are delighted to welcome our newest faculty member, Dr. Jessica Chen, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Dr. Chen received her PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center at UTHealth. She completed her postdoctoral work at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. She is an expert in beta-adrenergic signaling in cardiovascular disease. She is an outstanding educator who will help our educational mission to teach and mentor graduate students. Dr. Chen will develop new departmental graduate programs.
Michael Bouchard, PhD, Receives the 2021 Elias Abrutyn Mentoring Award
The College of Medicine's Elias Abrutyn Mentoring Award is presented to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in mentoring colleagues, residents, or students, by creating a supportive, effective environment in research, clinical care, education or scholarship, while advocating for the advancement of their mentees, and serving as a trusted advisor and role model. Bouchard was honored at a virtual ceremony, along with other Faculty Award recipients, on June 4.
Mauricio Reginato, PhD, Receives the 2021 Julian Marsh Faculty Scholar Award
The College of Medicine's Julian Marsh Faculty Scholar Award is presented to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in scientific research, achieved international recognition, demonstrated outstanding teaching skills, mentored students as well as peers, and provided consistent, high-quality leadership to the medical school, creating a better environment for all faculty and students. Reginato was honored at a virtual ceremony, along with other Faculty Award recipients, on June 4.
Bradford Jameson, PhD, and Todd Strochlic, VMD, PhD, receive 2021 Golden Apple Awards
The College of Medicine's annual Golden Apple Awards recognize outstanding service and teaching by Drexel University College of Medicine faculty and professional staff.
In the Media
February 26, 2020: Christian Sell, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, led research into the use of rapamycin to treat skin aging that was featured in MIT Technology Review's article on “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2020.”
December 11, 2019: Christian Sell, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and colleagues recently published research showing a possible new use for Rapamycin — as a way to slow skin aging. The findings were covered by Medical News Bulletin and Gilmore Health News.
November 26, 2019: Christian Sell, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, was quoted in United Press International, Specialty Medical Dialogues and Medical Life Sciences about his research exploring the use of rapamycin, a drug typically used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients, to reduce signs of skin aging. His research and findings were also covered in Economic Times Healthworld, ScienceBlog, McKnights Long-Term Care News, Medical News Today and Derm City.
May 11, 2016: Irwin Chaiken, PhD, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, was quoted in a Philadelphia Gay News story about his research team's receipt of a Campbell Foundation grant to study new treatments for HIV.
May 4, 2016: Irwin Chaiken, PhD, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, was mentioned in a post on the POZ Magazine website about receiving a Campbell Foundation grant to study a treatment that targets HIV reservoirs.
See all College of Medicine faculty in the Media
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