Research in this graduate focus area spans the areas of structural biology, bioinformatics, ion channels, membrane transport, metallobiochemistry, optical biology, crystallography and protein folding. The research groups within this focus are actively involved in the area of investigating molecular function with the aid of high-resolution techniques. The tools used here vary among the breadth of established biophysical techniques.

State-of-the-art instrumentation is available for structural biology and molecular biophysics studies.  This includes a Rigaku 007 rotating anode CCD system for x-ray data collection, continually updated crystallographic and modeling software, and regular access to synchrotron x-ray data collection facilities.  Crystallization robots are available via collaboration. Laboratories maintain state-of-the-art 3D-graphics workstations and computing servers and have free access to campus-wide computing servers and clusters.  The UCI Biomolecular NMR facility includes a Varian Inova 800 MHz NMR spectrometer; NMR hardware is available for both liquid, semi-solid and solid-state samples.  A Biacore 3000 (SPR) instrument is installed in a dedicated spectroscopy room and is available to the UCI community.  Further instrumentation includes atomic force microscopy (AFM), dynamic light scattering (DLS), a Jasco J-720 circular dichroism (CD) spectropolarimeter, MSC titration calorimeter (ITC), a Microcal VP-DSC scanning calorimeter and differential scanning fluorimetry (DSF).

Featured Videos

Philip Kiser
Physiology & Biophysics
Physiology and structural biology of the first steps of vertebrate vision, retinoid and carotenoid metabolism, retinal disease and therapeutics

Rachel Martin
Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Solid state NMR spectroscopy of proteins

Jennifer Prescher
Chemistry, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Probing biological systems with chemical tools and noninvasive imaging


  • Geoff Abbott, abbottg@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Biology and pharmacology of voltage-gated potassium channels, voltage-independent potassium channels, and ion transporters
  • John Chaput, jchaput@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Biological Chemistry
    Oligonucleotide therapeutics based on evolvable non-natural genetic polymers
  • Melanie Coccomcocco@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Biophysical and Structural Studies of Membrane and DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Paul Gershon, pgershon@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Mechanistic and structural characterization of vaccinia viral proteins, with an emphasis on specific mRNA synthetic and modification enzymes, using mass spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy and crystallography
  • Shane Gonengonens@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    The Gonen lab studies proteins implicated in disease by cryogenic electron microscopy, biochemistry and computational modelling
  • Celia Gouldingcelia.goulding@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    We are deciphering iron acquisition in Mycobacterium tuberculosis informed by structural and chemical biology, and proteomics. We are also working on contact-dependent growth inhibition systems (CDI), and the structural basis of its mechanism of action.
  • Michael Greenm.green@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Structure-function relationships in metalloproteins, protein engineering, and biological C-H bond activation
  • Steven Grosssgross@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    I study how molecular motors function and are regulated, and also a new pathway in the innate immune system to kill bacteria.
  • Allon Hochbaum, hochbaum@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Structural biology and biochemistry of bacterial cytochrome polymers; metabolism and metabolic heterogeneity in bacterial populations and communities.
  • Todd C. Holmestholmes@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    We study non-image forming visual mechanisms controlling arousal, phototaxis/light avoidance, time-of-day information behaviors in Drosophila (Fogle et al., 2011, Science; Ni, Baik et al., 2017, Nature).
  • Naoto Hoshinhoshi@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Regulation and pathological roles of a voltage-gated potassium channel, Kv7 channel
  • Yilin Huyilinh@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Biofuel, activation and reduction of carbon dioxide, structure & function of metalloenzymes involved in methanogenesis, photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation
  • Lan Huanglanhuang@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Ubiquitin-proteasome dependent protein degradation, Proteomics, Protein-protein interactions, Structural biology, Biological mass spectrometry, Cancer, Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Cholsoon Jang, choljang@uci.edu , Biological Chemistry
    Nutrition metabolism, metabolic diseases, mass spectrometry
  • Rongsheng Jin, r.jin@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Structure and function of bacterial toxins and receptors; synaptic proteins; protein complexes; protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions; X-ray crystallography; Cryo-EM
  • Vladimir Kefalov, vkefalov@hs.uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Functional analysis of rod and cone photoreceptor cells, mechanisms of light- and dark-adaptation, and photoreceptor degeneration and visual disorders
  • Philip Kiser, pkiser@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Physiology and structural biology of the first steps of vertebrate vision, retinoid and carotenoid metabolism, retinal disease and therapeutics
  • Wei Ling Lauwllau@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Vascular injury and gut dysbiosis in chronic kidney disease
  • Han Li, han.li@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Engineering of enzymes and microbes for health, sustainability, and environment.
  • Chang Liu, ccl@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    What does the map between macromolecular sequence and function look like? How does a gene’s evolutionary past shape its future?
  • Ray Luorluo@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Our research interests are in the general area of computational structural biology and biophysics. We are particularly interested in computational analysis of solvation-mediated electrostatics and polarization effects in molecular recognition and disordered proteins in cancer biology and biosynthesis.
  • Andrej Luptakaluptak@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    RNA biology and chemistry
  • Rachel W. Martinrwmartin@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Structural biology and biophysics of both highly soluble proteins and protein aggregates; enzyme discovery; NMR methods development.
  • Reggie McNulty, rmcnulty@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Macromolecular assemblies in inflammation and cancer using Cryo-EM and other approaches
  • Haik Mkhikian, hmkhikia@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Understanding the role of glycans in cell-surface biology, autoimmunity, and immunosenescence; Developing new tools/approaches to study glycobiology questions
  • Benjamin R. Morehouse, b.morehouse@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Studying the evolution and diversification of innate immune signaling systems using biochemical and structural methods. Interested in cyclic nucleotides and chemical defenses.
  • Krzysztof Palczewski, kpalczew@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Physiology & Biophysics
    Kris Palczewski’ s laboratory is focused on the fundamental process of vision taking place in rod and cone photoreceptors of the retina and the adjacent pigment epithelium.
  • Jenn Prescherjpresche@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    We develop chemical tools and noninvasive imaging strategies to spy on cellular communication.
  • Feng Qiaoqiao@uci.edu, Biological Chemistry
    Telomeres & telomerase and their roles in cancer and stem cell diseases; Structural, biochemical and molecular genetic analyses of ribonucleoprotein assemblies
  • Markus Ribbemribbe@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Biofuel, activation and reduction of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, artificial enzymes, assembly & function of enzymes containing complex metal cofactors
  • Robert Spitalerspitale@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Focused at understanding how the flow of genetic information is controlled inside cells and altered to result in disease phenotypes
  • Francesco Tombolaftombola@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Sensing mechanisms of the cellular microenvironment, ion channel physiology and pharmacology, development of new biosensors
  • Sheryl Tsai, sctsai@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Drug design and crystallography of protein complexes
  • Gregory Alan Weissgweiss@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    The Weiss Lab invents new technologies to dissect how life’s molecules work and then work to control, improve, and fix them.
  • Alvin Yu, alviny6@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    My lab uses multiscale computational techniques to investigate the molecular mechanisms of disease.

Faculty – Secondary Affiliation

  • Kevin T. Beierkbeier@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Molecular and neural circuit basis of mental illness, substance use disorders, Alzheimer’s disease – genetic/epigenetic individual vulnerability factor identification
  • Elizabeth N. Besselizabeth.bess@uci.edu, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
    Uncovering chemical reactions encoded in the gut microbiome to understand and treat human disease
  • Fangyuan Ding, dingfy@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    RNA biology and engineering, synthetic biology, single molecule imaging and quantification
  • Asuka Eguchi, asuka.eguchi@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    We study the pathogenic progression of genetic cardiomyopathies to develop therapeutic strategies for heart failure. Human iPSCs provide the disease model to study disease phenotypes.
  • Steve A. N. Goldstein, sgoldst2@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Ion channels in the heart, innate immune system, and nervous system in health and disease
  • Dan Mercoladmercola@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Current emphasis is prostate cancer and the interaction of cancer cells and the microenvironment as examined by DNA sequencing and gene expression changes. The ethnic differences in tumor and microenvironment interaction are also being examined for European American and African American populations.
  • Medha M. Pathak, medhap@uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Our lab aims to understand how the mechanically-activated Piezo1 ion channel regulates neural stem cell fate at molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.
  • Abraham J. Qavi, aqavi@uci.edu, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
    Development of innovative diagnostic technologies for (re)-emerging pathogens.
  • Xiaoyu Shi, xiaoyu.shi@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    We develop super-resolution microscopy and spatial multiomics methods to study aging and cancer at from molecular to organ levels.
  • Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk, dorotask@hs.uci.edu, Physiology & Biophysics
    Skowronska-Krawczyk’s laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular mechanism of aging in the eye and on discovering novel treatments to prevent age-related vision loss.
  • Wenqi Wang, wenqiw6@uci.edu, Developmental & Cell Biology
    Cancer signaling, oncogene, tumor supressors, organ size control, Hippo pathway, YAP/TAZ