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Research: Protein Biophysics Emphasizing Studies in Living Cells

 Kenan Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, UNC-CH

Joint Appointment Biochemistry and Biophysics & School of Medicine
Member of Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
(PhD in Biochemistry – Washington State University)

Accepting Rotation Students


  • Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring Award, UNC, 2023
  • Johnston Teaching Excellence Award, UNC, 2023
  • Award for Excellence in Basic Science Mentoring, UNC Office of Graduate Education, 2019
  • Glen H. Elder, Jr. Distinguished Term Professor of Research and Undergraduate Education, 2013
  • Vice Chair of Facilities for UNC Chemistry, 2013
  • NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, 2011
  • Graduate Studies Committee, UNC Chemistry, 2010



My graduate students and I work in two areas: High-resolution protein NMR studies in living cells. Biophysics of tardigrade dessication-tolerance proteins.

Pielak lab works in three areas:
High-resolution protein NMR studies in living cells.
Oxidative damage to α-synuclein, a key protein in Parkinson’s disease.
Pressure perturbation calorimetry of peptides and proteins.


My goal is to understand the chemistry of proteins as it occurs in living cells. This knowledge is fundamentally important and essential for ensuring that simple, inexpensive in vitro experiments can be used with confidence to diagnose and treat human disease. My lab has pioneered the study of both globular and disordered proteins under actual biologically relevant conditions both in vitro and in cells. We do this by developing innovative techniques to measure protein stability and diffusion in the presence of huge amounts of solutes that interfere with standard measurement techniques.

REPRESENTATIVE PUBLICATIONS PubMed(click for Full Publication List)

UNC Lifetime Mentoring Award in the News

Lab Contact:

Lab Rooms: Genome 3250

Lab Fax: 919-962-6714

Gary Pielak PhD 2023 photo
  • Phone Number

    919-962-4495 (Office Phone)

  • Address

    3250 Genome Sciences Building

    Chemistry Dept., Pielak Lab

    Chapel Hill, NC 27599