Eighth Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics Workshop

Dr. Ashok Deniz

Ashok Deniz obtained his Ph.D. In Chemistry from the University of Chicago. His thesis work involved “listening to reactions” – he used sound to characterize nanosecond reaction thermodynamics and the stability of the transient antiaromatic molecule cyclobutadiene. He then began post-doctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley – he was involved in early single-molecule FRET methods developments. He is currently Associate Professor at Scripps Research in La Jolla. His lab studies the biophysical mechanisms of protein folding and assembly, while developing and using novel single-molecule fluorescence tools for this purpose. Interests include dynamic complexity and active matter effects in disordered proteins and cellular phase separation, important in biology and health.

Learn more about Dr. Ashok’s research at his website.

Dr. Mark Herzik

Dr. Mark Herzik has a long-standing interest in using complementary biochemical and structural methodologies to obtain mechanistic insights into signal transduction pathways contributing to a variety of disorders, ranging from cardiovascular disease to neurodegeneration and chronic pain. Dr. Herzik performed his graduate research at The University of California, Berkeley in the lab of Dr. Michael Marletta, in close collaboration with Dr. John Kuriyan, utilizing various biochemical and biophysical techniques, including X-ray crystallography, to determine the mechanisms by which organisms’ sense and respond to nitric oxide. As a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Gabriel Lander at The Scripps Research Institute Dr. Herzik employed high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to elucidate the structures of various macromolecular complexes implicated in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases or chronic pain to reveal new potential targets for therapeutics and avenues for structure-aided drug design. In addition, Dr. Herzik pioneered the development of novel strategies for collecting and processing high-resolution cryo-EM data, with particular emphasis towards imaging small (<200 kDa) macromolecules, as well as developing novel methodologies for validating atomic models generated against these data. As an Assistant Professor at The University of California, San Diego, Dr. Herzik has continued to develop innovative cryo-EM methodologies, including single-particle and tomography, to elucidate the mechanisms of macromolecular transport within eukaryotes.

Learn more about Dr. Herzik’s research at his website.

Dr. George Makhatadze

Dr. Makhatadze completed his postdoctoral work at the Department of Biology at the Johns Hopkins University before moving to his first faculty position in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas Tech University. After three years at Texas Tech he moved to the Penn State University College of Medicine, where he was Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and directed a graduate program in Chemical Biology. Dr. Makhatadze joined Rensselaer in 2007 as a Constellation Professor in Biocomputation and Bioinformatics. His laboratory’s research is at the interface between computational modeling and experimental studies of functional dynamics of proteins and protein-ligand complexes (protein-protein, protein-DNA/RNA, protein-substrate) under different physico-chemical variables. More recently, the research interests has been focused on the effects of high hydrostatic pressure of protein stability and function with potential implications of life in deep biosphere.

Learn more about Dr. Makhatadze’s research at his website.

Dr. Edwin Pozharski

Dr. Pozharski received his Ph.D. in 1998 from the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of Russian Academy of Sciences, and initially trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry of Northwestern University. He then pursued postdoctoral training in X-ray crystallography in Rosenstiel Basic Medical research Center at Brandeis University. Dr Pozharski was an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and joined the Department in 2013 as a member of Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics. He holds concurrent appointment as a Fellow at the Institute for Biosciences and Biotechnology Research.

Dr Pozharski’s area of scientific expertise is structural biology, with major focus on protein X-ray crystallography. Throughout his career as a protein crystallographer, he has focused on structural mechanisms of molecular recognition in variety of biomolecular systems, including small molecules, protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions. He has also contributed to methodological aspects of protein crystallography, including computational methods, structure validation, and crystallization methods.

Learn more about Dr. Pozharskik’s research at his website.

Dr. Madeline Shea

Madeline Shea earned her B.S. in Chemistry at Caltech, and her Ph.D. in Biophysics at the Johns Hopkins University, where she also did postdoctoral studies. Her current research focuses on understanding how allosteric interactions govern calcium-mediated signal transduction pathways essential to human health. Specifically, her laboratory has focused on dissecting distinct roles of the domains of the essential calcium receptor calmodulin (CaM) to understand molecular mechanisms of regulation of voltage-gated ion channels, the Ser/Thr phosphatase calcineurin, the NMDA receptor, CaMKII, the ryanodine receptor and other target proteins found in neurons and muscle. Her laboratory develops and applies numerous quantitative approaches of biophysical chemistry (NMR, fluorescence, crystallography, CD, hydrodynamics, etc.) to probe the linkage between energetic and structural determinants that control binding of calcium and drugs to CaM, and the resulting domain-specific conformational changes of CaM that control its regulation of protein targets. The laboratory has explored the effect of order-disorder transitions on the cooperativity between CaM domains, and how those are influenced by target interactions. At the University of Iowa, Dr. Shea is a Professor of Biochemistry, Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics in the Carver College of Medicine, and the founding director of the Fostering Undergraduate Talent – Uniting Research and Education (FUTURE) in Biomedicine Program which brings faculty and student pairs from primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) to conduct mentored research in a host laboratory. She has served as a study section member at NIH, panel member at NSF and reviewer for numerous journals. In the Biophysical Society, she served on the Council, Executive Board and multiple committees; she has been President and a long-term Board member of the Gibbs Society of Biological Thermodynamics. She is a member of the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars, a Fellow of AAAS, and recently received the Emily M. Gray Award from the Biophysical Society.

The Biophysical Society Newsletter published a profile on Dr. Shea providing a more in-depth biography.

Learn more about Dr. Shea’s research at her website.