To perform transformative biochemical and biophysical research in an inclusive and stimulating training environment.
To inspire tomorrow’s cures by decoding the molecular basis of life.
We appreciate your interest, and invite you to explore the numerous research opportunities available with our Department. Below are a few highlights to get you started.
Funding, Faculty, & Members
In 2021, we ranked 5th best in NIH funding among all Biochemistry departments in the nation, securing over $19.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and 3rd among public institutions.
Six faculty (Ronald Swanstrom, Aziz Sancar, Dale Ramsden, Bill F. Marzluff, Jean G. Cook, Brian A. Kuhlman) ranked in the top 110 most highly funded NIH investigators in 2021. Of special note is that Ronald Swanstrom ranked 3rd among all principal investigators in Biochemistry for total NIH dollars. The Department’s 66 faculty members consist of 25 full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty, 17 fixed term, 10 joint, and 14 adjunct faculty who make up a unique blend of biophysical, biochemical, and molecular genetic specialists.
In 2015, Dr. Sancar shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Among our primary faculty are three members of the National Academy of Sciences: Dr. Richard Wolfenden (recently retired), Dr. Jack Griffith, and Dr. Aziz Sancar. In recent years, department faculty members have been recipients of prestigious awards and honors from the Keck, Beckman, Sloan, Pew, ASBMB, and Searle foundations. Armed with potent tools, experience, and a wealth of new information, our faculty are positioned to solve fundamental research questions of biology and disease.
Departmental areas of research excellence include studies of genomic integrity, the dynamic biochemistry of chromatin, cell signaling and cell cycle control, epigenetics, proteomics, and enzymology. Many diseases are impacted by our basic research: cancer, cardiovascular disease (thrombosis, atherosclerosis), cystic fibrosis, neurological diseases, HIV and other viral diseases. Basic research specialties include nuclear processes (chromatin biochemistry, DNA replication, repair, recombination, remodeling, transcription, and cell cycle regulation) cell signaling, cell adhesion, platelet biology, protein trafficking, retroviruses, protein and RNA structure, protein design, proteomics, and computational biology.
The department has close ties to other UNC programs and departments, including the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Neuroscience Center, the Integrative Program for Biological & Genome Sciences, the Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Diseases Research and Treatment Center, UNC Blood Research Center, and the Center for AIDS Research.
The department co-sponsors the Cryo-EM, High-Throughput Peptide Synthesis and Array Facility, Macromolecular X-ray Crystallography, Macromolecular Interactions Facility, NMR Spectroscopy, Protein Expression and Purification, and Structural Bioinformatics core facilities.
The department also houses the vibrant, pan-campus Program in Molecular and Cellular Biophysics, which unites faculty from the departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Computer Sciences. Faculty members teach modules in this program and also teach courses in the Curriculum in Genetics. The department currently has approximately 39 predoctoral students who work in department labs, including 35 graduate students and 46 postdoctoral fellows, 24 undergraduate students, and many more trainees in our labs paid by other collaborating units and volunteers. We are supported by 7 administrative and 15 research staff. Thus, the department has created a vibrant and productive training environment for graduate students seeking their doctoral degrees.
We have a large and vibrant PhD program with students from all over the United States and around the world. After their first year in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP), students can matriculate directly to the Biochemistry & Biophysics graduate program, as well as to one of several interdisciplinary training programs. Students interested in our Biochemistry Track can design a flexible program that potentially exposes them to current research in biochemical, molecular, cell biological and biophysical concepts. They can also apply to one of many training grants appropriate to their area of interest. For the Biophysics Track, the Molecular & Cellular Biophysics Predoctoral Training Program affords participating students the opportunity to work with faculty in eleven UNC departments, including Physics, Chemistry, Computer Sciences, Applied Mathematics and Medicinal Chemistry. The aim of this program is to apply mechanistic and quantitative approaches to medically significant problems. Students who are specifically interested in biophysics may wish to apply to this program as well, particularly if they would like to take full advantage of the biophysics training curriculum or wish to have the option of working with biophysics faculty in departments other than Biochemistry & Biophysics.
See the research menu tab – click on the above link.