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Biochemistry


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Faculty Research Overview
 

The Department of Biochemistry is housed in the Given Health Science Complex, part of the UVM College of Medicine, which is located on the main University of Vermont campus in Burlington. Presently the Department has 14 full-time faculty members as well as 5 adjunct faculty members whose primary appointments are in other Departments. Our Department is actively involved in research designed to understand the basic workings of proteins and enzymes, as well as their associations with macromolecular substrates including nucleic acids, metal ions, lipids, and cell membranes. The faculty’s research programs are linked by their use of physical biochemical methods to study diverse problems. Our Department can be grouped into the following interest groups (with considerable overlap between them):

 

Cell & Molecular Biology

With the completion of the human genome and the identification of thousands of gene products, Cell and Molecular Biology will play an increasingly important role in the future. The goal of establishing a biological role for each gene product is now paramount. Many researchers in the Department use cellular and molecular biology methods to study important problems such as megakaryocyte development. Many of the faculty in our Department are also members of the UVM Cell and Molecular Biology Program and make extensive use of the College of Medicine's state-of-the-art Cell Imaging Facility. Several Biochemistry faculty are also members of the Vermont Cancer Center.

Beth Bouchard
Kathleen Brummel-Ziedins
Robert Kelm
Paula Tracy

 

Coagulation Biology & Disease

The Coagulation group (often referred to as 'The Clotters') is a large and close knit group of investigators who are studying all aspects of hemostasis. The work includes the identification, purification, kinetic characterization and structure determination of new clotting factors & inhibitors, pseudo in-vivo functional studies, cascade modeling, the role of the platelet and the identification of genetic risk markers. The Department has held an NIH Training Grant in Hemostasis for over 20 years to support both students and postdoctoral fellows.

Beth Bouchard
Kathleen Brummel-Ziedins
Saulius Butenas
Stephen Everse
Robert Kelm
Kenneth Mann
Thomas Orfeo
Jay Silveira
Paula Tracy

 

Physical Biochemistry

The Department's roots in Physical Biochemistry are strong and can be traced back more than 100 years. Despite the diverse research interests of the Biochemistry Faculty, many use similar physical biochemical methods to understand various research problems. These methods include, but are not limited to: fluorescence spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) spectroscopy, analytical ultracentrifugation, ultraviolet/visible/circular dichroism (UV/Vis/CD) spectroscopy, stopped-flow and quench-flow kinetics, and X-ray diffraction.

Christopher Berger
Stephen Everse
Christopher Francklyn
Kenneth Mann
Anne Mason
Scott Morrical
Thomas Orfeo

 

Nucleic Acid/Protein Interactions

How is a DNA replication fork assembled and regulated? How does a synthetase discriminate among dozens of tRNA species to find its one specific partner? How are DNA double-strand breaks repaired? Understanding mechanisms of transcription, translation, DNA replication, repair, and recombination are fundamentally important for predicting the stability or instability of genomes, for a molecular understanding of carcinogenesis, and for the design of new anti-tumor and anti-microbial agents. These and other important issues are being addressed by Biochemistry Faculty with interests in Nucleic Acid/Protein Interactions. Experimental approaches employed include thermodynamic, kinetic, and structural studies of DNA-protein and RNA-protein complexes, site directed mutagenesis of protein and nucleic acid components, plus biochemical assays for DNA synthesis, RNA synthesis, aminoacylation of tRNA, DNA recombination and repair.

Christopher Francklyn
Robert Kelm
Scott Morrical

 

Enzymology

Enzymes touch virtually every aspect of biochemistry. How an enzyme recognizes a substrate, cleaves it, and releases it are complex problems requiring a multi-disciplinary approach to understand. Many labs in the Department are taking a quantitative and/or structural approach to study enzymes in action. Research areas include: selenium containing enzymes, tRNA synthetases, enzymes and co-factors of the coagulation cascade, and DNA replication and recombination machines amongst others.

Christopher Berger
Saulius Butenas
Christopher Francklyn
Robert Hondal
Kenneth Mann
Scott Morrical
Eric Ruggles

 

Structural Biology

The Department of Biochemistry, as part of the UVM College of Medicine's Structural Biology Initiative, has embarked on a major program to establish structural biology as a core research discipline on this campus. This program has been facilitated by major grants to UVM from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and from the Department of Energy (DOE). Ongoing projects include X-ray structures of: iron binding proteins, blood clotting factors, DNA-protein complexes involved in replication, recombination, and transcriptional regulation, and synthetase-tRNA.

Christopher Berger
Stephen Everse
Christopher Francklyn
Robert Hondal
Anne Mason
Scott Morrical


 

   
 
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