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Faculty Members

The Program In Structural Biology and Biochemistry has 28 full-time faculty members from the School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, and the National Jewish Medical and Research Center (NJMRC) for teaching students and supervising their research.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Francisco Asturias
Ph.D. Pennsylvania University

​Many essential cellular processes are carried out by "macromolecular machines", large assemblies that often include tens of different proteins, each making a specific contribution to the function of the machine. Characterization of these large macromolecular complexes using a combination of techniques constitutes the next frontier in structural biology.

Interestingly, despite including many different proteins, macromolecular complexes often display minimal enzymatic activity. This suggests that they truly function as macromolecular machines, in which function is related to “mechanical” changes that affect interactions and activity. Characterizing different states and conformations of a macromolecule, and correlating these findings to biochemical and functional information, can be essential to establish the mechanism of these remarkable cellular machines.

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
BA, University of Vermont
Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University

The long-term goal of our research is to determine the molecular principles and logic that underlie transcriptional regulation in humans. As a model system, we studying the human steroid receptors, how they assemble at complex promoter sequences, and the relationship between these interactions and cellular outcomes. Our group uses thermodynamic approaches to experimentally dissect receptor- promoter binding energetics and statistical thermodynamics to synthesize overall behavior; we collaborate closely with Dr. James Lambert¹s lab (UCDenver Pathology) to link these findings to in vivo behavior.​​

PubMed Publications​  

O: 303-724-6118  Lab: 303-724-6119  University of Colorado-Denver  School of Pharmacy Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences Building Room  Office: 4117  Lab: 4450D​​

Department of Physiology and Biophysics
John Bankston
Ph.D. Columbia University

​Ion channels are basic molecular elements responsible for the generation of cellular electricity. The opening and closing (gating) of these transmembrane proteins give rise to ionic fluxes that generate electrical signals in tissues all across the body. The generation of these signals is critical for phenomena as diverse as nerve action potentials, sensory transduction, pain sensing, muscle contraction, hearing, vision, and hormone secretion. Ion channels gate in response to external stimuli such as binding of ligands (ligand-gated ion channels) or changes in transmembrane electric field (voltage-gate ion channels). Our research is focused on understanding fundamental molecular mechanisms of ion channel function. This includes studying the basic structural elements involved in coupling a stimulus to a change in state (from close to open for instance) as well as studying how ion channels function as larger macromolecular complexes. To attack these questions, we use a combination of electrophysiology, biochemistry, fluorescence imaging, electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, and structural biology. Trainees in the lab would be encouraged to take projects that would provide expertise in more than one of these approaches.

Office Location: RC1-North, Room 7133
Phone: 303-724-4909

Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, CU


Structural analysis of protein glycosylation
using NMR and mass spectrometry​.

PubMed Publications​

Office Location: RC-1 South, Room 12113
Mailing Address:
Mail Stop 8108​
12801 East 17th Avenue
Aurora, CO 80045
Phone: 303-724-3453
Fax: 303-724-3420

John Cambier

Chairman, Department of Immunology, CU


Ida and Cecil Green Distinguished Professor and Chairman,
Integrated Department of Immunology
University of Colorado Denver and
National Jewish Health
Phone: (303) 398-1325​
Dr. Cambier's National Jewish Health webpage

​Carlos Catalano​

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Carlos Catalano

BA, San Francisco State University; PharmD & Ph.D University of California-San Francisco

​Research in the Catalano lab focuses on molecular mechanisms of virus assembly in the double-stranded DNA viruses.  We couple detailed enzyme kinetic analyses with biophysical and structural interrogation of the molecular motor that "packages" the viral genome into a capsid shell. Maturation of the nucleoprotein particle into an infectious virus is examined in defined reaction mixtures.  The lambda capsid system is further harnessed for the construction of "designer" nanoparticles for use as therapeutic and diagnostic agents. 

PubMed Publications

O:303-724-0011 University of Colorado-Denver School of Pharmacy; Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences Building: Office 4118 Lab 4450A

Uwe Christians

Professor Department of Anesthesiology, CU

MD/Ph.D.  Medizinische Hochschule Hannover​

We are committed to advancing individual medicine by examining the unique biology of an individual to assess truly personalized treatments. Our state of the art facility provides integrated solutions to systems biology and is located at Colorado's Fitzsimons Bioscience Park.​

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website


Bioscience East, Suite 100  1999 N. Fitzsimons PKWY Aurora, CO 80045 303-724-5663​

Mair Churchill​

Director of the Program In Structural Biology and Biochemistry, Department of Pharmacology, CU


My lab is interested in understanding the molecular basis of essential processes that regulate gene expression. We use biophysical, biochemical methods, and structural methods, including X-ray crystallography. Our insights into these fundamental mechanisms will contribute to a better understanding and ability to regulate gene expression processes involved in human diseases from cancer and heart disease to bacterial infections and will assist in drug development efforts.​

PubMed Publications​

University of Colorado Denver
Department of Pharmacology
Mail Stop 8303, RC1-South
12801 East 17th Ave
Aurora CO 80045
Phone: (303) 724-3670
Fax: (303) 724-3663

Department of Biomedical Research
Gina Clayton

​I am located in the lab of John Kappler and Pippa Marrack (National Jewish Health, Denver) where I study the structure and function of immunologically important proteins. I am currently focused primarily on T Cell Receptor and MHC complexes. Such complexes are important in antigen recognition and immune response and play important roles in specific diseases. The methods I use to understand these interactions are X-ray Crystallography, Electron Microscopy, and other biochemical and biophysical techniques such as Surface Plasmon Resonance and Differential Scanning Fluorimetry.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Angelo D’Alessandro
BS, MS, PhD - Tuscia University - Italian National Blood Center
Post-Doc Tuscia University, Italy; Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, MRC UK, Glasgow, UK; University of Colorado Denver

​Omics technologies, especially metabolomics and proteomics, have helped us revealing emerging patterns in systemic responses to acute or chronic hypoxia. By focusing on cancer metabolism and (red) blood cell biology, we are increasingly appreciating shared molecular mechanisms driving systemic responses to trauma/ hemorrhagic shock, I/R injury, sickle cell disease, ageing and inflammation, mammalian hibernation and pulmonary hypertension.

Skype: angelo.dalessandro.1984

Shaodong Dai

Associate Professor
Department of Immunology and Microbiology

Dr. Shadong Dai

Uppsala Biomedical Centre, Sweden, PhD, 1998

​Metal ions are essential nutrients in all forms of life. Despite their important roles, metals can be toxic and elicit different kinds of immune responses, causing diseases. Chronic beryllium disease is a fibrotic lung disorder caused by beryllium exposure, while nickel ion is the dominant allergen for contact dermatitis.

Our major goal is to understand the mechanisms of the metal containing ligands for alpha/beta TCRs from metal reactive human T cells. Using structural biology we will be able to discern the respective rule for metal binding and find potent compounds to inhibit metal binding, thus abrogating T cell responses. We are also interested in the molecular basis of metal induced autoimmunity.

Recently we observed metal ions directly attenuate the binding affinity between TCR and pMHC interaction. Our goal is to understand how the metal ions attenuate the TCR/pMHC binding affinity and what effects they have on T cells activation. The results can help to elucidate the molecular basis for some autoimmunity caused by metals. We are interested in redox signaling in chloroplast and T Cells.

We are studying a unique iron-sulfur enzyme, ferredoxin: thioredoxin reductase, containing both a catalytic [4Fe-4S] cluster and a redox active disulfide. The overall objective of this proposal is to decipher the mechanisms of reduction of disulfide catalyzed by iron sulfur cluster and thiol-disulfide exchange reactions in ferredoxin /thioredoxin system. Redox signaling in apoptosis involves the oxidation and reduction of cysteine residues in critical thiol proteins. Changes in the structure and activity of these proteins can initiate cell responses, or modify the response of cells to other signals.

My proposed research focuses on the regulatory mechanisms of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) mediated T cell apoptosis. ASK1 is a member of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAP3K) family, which activates both the SEK1-JNK and MKK3/6-p38 MAP signaling cascades and constitutes a pivotal signaling pathway in cytokine- and stress-induced apoptosis. This signaling pathway mediates a variety of cellular events, including cell proliferation, differentiation, and death.

PubMed Publications

​Lab Website

1400 Jackson Street Denver, CO 80206

Tel: (303) 398-1504
Fax: (303) 270-2166

Department of Pediatrics, CU

We are developing new technologies for more sensitive and efficient analysis. Currently, the usual approach to protein separation is 2D gel electrophoresis. Although powerful, this step is labor-intensive and time-consuming.We are currently developing qualitative and quantitative protein analyses in biological tissues and fluids that avoid this step.​

PubMed Publications​

Department of Pediatrics/Div Endocrinology
University of Colorado Denver
at Fitzsimons (RC1 South Tower, Room 12-104)
P.O. Box 6611 MS 8119
Aurora, Colorado 80045​

Elan Eisenmesser​

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, CU


We are interested in understanding multiple molecular interactions that go awry during both inflammatory diseases and cancer progression. The novelty in our group’s approach is that we utilize highly integrative methods to probe interactions from atomic resolution techniques to cell-based techniques. When cellular and clinical studies are combined with molecular and biochemical studies, a complete understanding of the particular system under study can be drawn.​

PubMed Publications​

Phone: (303) 724-3246

Kirk Hansen

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, CU

Kirk Hansen.jpg

We are focused on developing and utilizing strategies for the detection and characterization of proteins in health and disease. Our goal is to understand underlying mechanisms of disease at the molecular level using mass spectrometry as our primary analytical tool.
Using cell culture models we are performing studies to identify ECM components and modifications that influence metastatic potential of breast epithelial cells. We are also developing quantification methods to identify mediators of multiple organ failure in shock models and patients.

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website

Phone: (303) 724-5544

Robert Hodges

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, CU


​Synthetic peptide and antipeptide approaches play major roles in understanding protein structure and function. 

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website

Phone: (303) 724-3253

Michael Holers

 Division of Rheumatology, CU


The basic and translational research focus of my laboratory is on two areas. The first is the roles of complement receptors and membrane regulatory proteins in the immune response, with a special emphasis on B lymphocytes and autoimmune diseases. The second is the role of autoantibodies and the evolution of autoimmunity in RA from the pre-symptomatic autoantibody-positive period through the onset of clinically active disease.

PubMed Publications​​

Lab Website

Barbara Davis Center (Anschutz), Room 3102-E Phone: 303-724-7605

Lawrence Hunter

Department of Pharmacology; Director, Center for Computational Pharmacology, CU


Development and application of advanced computational techniques for biomedicine, particularly the application of statistical and knowledge-based techniques to the analysis of high-throughput data and of biomedical texts. Also, neurobiologically and evolutionarily informed computational models of cognition, and ethical issues related to computational bioscience.
My laboratory is currently focused on knowledge-driven extraction of information from the primary biomedical literature, the semantic integration of knowledge resources in molecular biology, and the use of knowledge in the analysis of high-throughput data.

PubMed Publications​

Aaron Johnson

Assistant Professor Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

Ph.D., Rockefeller University

Our work focuses on the formation and regulation of chromatin domains and their ultimate roles in the nucleus. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms of heterochromatin establishment and function. Heterochromatin operates in organisms from yeast to humans to determine cell identity and maintain genome stability by silencing genes. Because heterochromatin functions in such central processes, misregulation of this genomic structure can have dire consequences such as cancer or abnormal development. Our work investigates the mechanisms by which silencing is carried out. We use a combination of in vitro assembly of chromatin domains, mechanistic biochemistry, proteomic analysis, and genome-wide chromatin profiling to understand the complex superstructural “neighborhoods” of chromosomes​.

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website

Phone: (303) 724-3224  E-mail:

David Jones

Department of Pharmacology, CU


The action of small molecules at receptors and other proteins in signalling cascades leads to major changes in behavior. These small molecules act by producing a change in protein structure and dynamics that ultimate leads to changes in nueronal signalling. Our research focuses on two different classes of modulators of neuronal signal transduction, namely alcohols and pheromones. Alcohols act on a variety of receptors and other neuronal proteins, and lead to pharmacological changes that can result in alcohol intoxication and alcohol dependency. ​

PubMed Publications​

Mail Stop 8303, RC1-South
12801 East 17th Ave
Aurora CO 80045
Phone: (303) 724-3600
Fax: (303) 724-3663

John Kappler

Professor, Department of Immunology


Brandeis University-PhD, Biochemistry, 1970, Lehigh University-BA, Chemistry, 1965​

Atopic Dermatitis, Autoimmunity/Rheumatology, Basic Immunology, Cancer, Chronic Beryllium Disease, Genetics, Immunobiology, Molecular Immunology, Type-1 Diabetes, Structural Biology ​

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website

Phone: 303-398-1322  E-Mail:

Jeffrey Kieft

Professor Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, CU


Our research focuses on understanding the structure and function of the most versatile of all biological macromolecules: RNA. Our main focus is to understand RNAs produced and used by viruses to take over an infected cell. We are motivated by two premises: (1) infectious diseases (such as viruses) are still the largest threat to human health worldwide, and (2) by studying how viruses take over the cell’s machinery, we learn a tremendous amount about fundamental processes within the cell itself.​

PubMed Publications​

Tatiana Kutateladze

Department of Pharmacology, CU


Research in my group focuses on the molecular mechanisms of epigenetic regulation and phosphoinositide signaling. We apply high field NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and a wide array of biochemical and molecular biology approaches to characterize the atomic-resolution structures and functions of chromatin- and lipid-binding proteins implicated in cancer and other human diseases.​

PubMed Publications​

Mail Stop 8303, RC1-South
12801 East 17th Ave
Aurora CO 80045
Phone: (303) 724-3593
Fax: (303) 724-3663

​Daniel LaBarbera

Department of Pharmacuetical Sciences

Ph.D. Organic Chemistry, Arizona State University

The LaBarbera laboratory is focused on drug discovery and development targeting cancer and diabetes. To accomplish this we utilize a multidisciplinary approach encompassing assay development for high-throughput screening (HTS) and confocal image based high-content screening (HCS), natural products small molecule library development, mechanism of action studies, and drug design and medicinal chemistry. The LaBarbera lab has pioneered techniques in validating and implementing 3D-tissue culture models of human disease for HCS/HTS, including: human lens epithelial spheroids (lentoids) for diabetic eye disease research and the multicellular tumor spheroid (MCTS) model for cancer research. We couple these models with surrogate biomarker reporters for phenotypic screening to identify small molecule bioactive modulators of human disease. Once we identify lead compounds we determine and validate their molecular target(s) and characterize the mechanism(s) of action using in silico, in vitro, cell based, and in vivo models to design more potent “druglike” lead compounds with a long-term goal of clinical translation.

PubMed Publications

Office Location:

Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Building (V20) 
Second Floor 
Room 2101

Lab Location:

Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Building (V20) 
Second Floor 
Room 2420D-G


Department of Medicine - Cardiology, CFReT
Maggie Lam, PhD
Ph.D. University of Hong Kong

​Our lab is interested in developing mass spectrometry and computational methods to understand protein dynamics in health and disease. Current projects include developing multi-omics strategies to quantify protein alternative isoforms; investigating the role of ER stress and protein glycosylation in cellular stress responses; and identifying the trends and focuses of research topics in the biomedical literature.

Office Location: RC2, Room 8012
Office: 303-724-3520
Lab: 303-724-3786
Publications: PubMed

​Changwei Liu

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics​


Ph.D., Chinese Academy of Sciences

​Our group has two major research interests: 1) investigate the biochemical mechanisms by wich proteasomal activities are regulated in cells; and 2) determine new fuctions of the spinal muscular atrophy protein--survival motor neuron.  We use biochemical, cell biological and proteomics approaches for our studies.

PubMed Publications

Lab Website​

Office: RC1 South 9104 ​Phone: 303-724-3208  Email:

Krishna Mallela

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, CU


Muscular dystrophy (MD) refers to a group of degenerative muscle diseases that cause progressive muscle weakness. MD affects all types of muscles. For example, decreased function of heart muscles causes heart diseases that include cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. At present there is no cure available for MD, although certain palliative treatments are available to ease the pain associated with MD. Duchenne MD (DMD) and Becker MD (BMD) are two prominent types of MD, which are caused by the deficiency of a vital muscle protein known as dystrophin.​

PubMed Publications​

University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences  Mail Stop C238  12850 E. Montview Blvd. V20-4123   Aurora, CO 80045  Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Building (V20)   Fourth Floor   Room 4123​

Robert Murphy

Department of Pharmacology, CU


Research in this laboratory focuses on the basic biochemistry and pharmacological control of lipid mediators derived from both enzymatic and nonenzymatic pathways largely employing techniques of sophisticated mass spectrometry to address critical issues. The term lipid mediators is used here in the context that many of the compounds under investigation have potent and diverse biological activities that permit cells to intercommunicate with each other. ​

PubMed Publications​

Mail Stop 8303, RC1-South
12801 East 17th Ave
Aurora CO 80045
Phone: (303) 724-3352
Fax: (303) 724-3357

David Pollock

Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, CU


Protein, RNA, and other functional molecules that exist in living organisms are the product of millions of years of evolution. The substitutions that have occurred over the years had to have been compatible with the constraints of structure and function, and thus the evolutionary record provides critical data for understanding macromolecular structure/function/sequence relationships.​

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website

Phone: (303) 724-3234

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Srinivas Ramachandran
Ph.D. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

​Regulation of genome access underlies growth, development, differentiation, and disease states including tumor initiation. Genome access is regulated by dynamic chromatin landscapes. We want to uncover fundamental mechanisms that shape chromatin landscapes by mapping chromatin structure at high temporal and spatial resolution using new experimental and/or computational methods. This research program in chromatin biology  is at the intersection of genomics, biochemistry, and structural biology.

Office Location: RC1-South, Room 9102
Phone: 303-724-3308

Nichole Reisdorph

Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology


Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota, PhD​

Dr. Reisdorph's research is designed to integrate clinical proteomics, metabolomics, and bioinformatics in order to develop and customize clinically relevant methodologies to diagnose or monitor disease states. Results from these studies will also significantly enhance the knowledge of the biochemical mechanisms of diseases. In addition, Dr’s Reisdorph’s facility will specialize in post-translational modification analysis as well as the identification of differentially regulated proteins from a variety of sources including cell extracts, biofluids, and tissue samples. Dr. Reisdorph uses a variety of techniques in her work, including two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, DiGE, tandem mass spectrometry, and quantitative labeling and non-labeling strategies.   Dr. Reisdorph organizes proteomics hands-on workshops and web-based courses through National Jewish and the University of Colorado Denver. Since 2005, Dr. Reisdorph and her team have instructed almost a dozen 3-4 day workshops, for a total of over 120 individuals, who come from a variety of backgrounds. Dr. Reisdorph is currently expanding her training program to include additional hands on courses, such as quantitative proteomics, and distance-learning courses, such as database searching.​

PubMed Publications

Natalie Serkova

Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology


University of Bremen, Germany Ph.D. 1996​

Our research interests are in developing physiologically-based imaging end-points for cancer detection and response to novel anti-cancer therapies. We are also interested in developing novel molecular probes and protocols for non-invasive imaging of inflammation proteins, oncoproteins and endogenous metabolites (so-called "molecular imaging").​

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website

University of Colorado Denver  Department of Pharmacology  Mail Stop B113, AO1  12800 East 19th Ave   Aurora CO 80045  Phone: (303) 315-1878  E-mail:

Chandra Tucker

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology


Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA​

Research in the Tucker Lab focuses on development of technologies for manipulation and probing of protein interactions and pathways.  In particular, we are focusing on the emerging area of cellular optogenetics, developing pioneering new engineered protein tools to precisely regulate cell function with light.

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website

University of Colorado Denver  Department of Pharmacology  Mail Stop 8303, RC1-South  12801 East 17th Ave, Room L18-6113   Aurora CO 80045  Phone: (303) 724-6337  Fax: (303) 724-3663  E-mail:

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Beat Vogeli
Ph.D. Institut für Physikalische Chemie

​Protein and nucleic acid architecture is defined by the 3D average structure, but biomolecules are inherently dynamic systems. Using NMR, we contribute to the understanding of communication networks by modeling realistic ensembles of structures, identification of allosteric mechanisms and interactions with other proteins, nucleic acids or small ligands. An important pillar of this program is the establishment of our recently developed exact nuclear Overhauser enhancement (eNOE) methodology for a realistic representation of molecular spatial sampling.

We aim at atomic-scale descriptions of the following mechanisms: i) Motor adaptors in complex dynamic protein assemblies associated with the motor cytoplasmic dynein: We conduct experiments with the C-terminal tail of the dynein light intermediate chain to provide molecular insight into how the elongated, flexible scaffold engages with functionally diverse dynein adapters. ii) Structural landscape of human peptidyl-prolyl cis/trans isomerase Pin1 allostery: How does the WW domain transmit information from its binding site to the spatially separated catalytic PPI site? iii) Long-range coupling networks in PDZ domains: An NMR-based evidence of the presence of correlated motion along the proposed pathways would constitute a major advance both in NMR methodology, as well as towards an understanding of dynamics-function relationships and allostery. iv) Allostery in protein-RNA interaction: The elucidation of the allosteric mechanism of RsmE upon binding of non-coding RNA RsmZ may uncover more general principles on how RNA binding domains in tandem or homodimeric RNA binding proteins fine tune their RNA binding affinity.

Office Location: RC1-South, Room 9103
Phone: 303-724-3215

Gongyi Zhang

Associate Processor Department of Immunology at National Jewish Health


Ph.D. Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Signal Transduction. 

Membrane Proteins.

Transcription Regulation.​

PubMed Publications

​Phone: 303-398-1715


Rui Zhao

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, CU


My laboratory has two major research focuses. The first is to understand the molecular mechanism of pre-mRNA splicing using a combination of X-ray crystallography, molecular biology, biochemistry and yeast genetics approaches. Splicing of pre-mRNA is essential for gene expression in all eukaryotes. In higher eukaryotes such as mammals, an average of 95% of the nucleotides in the primary transcript (pre-mRNA) of a protein-encoding gene are introns. ​

PubMed Publications​

Lab Website

Phone: (303) 724-3269
E-mail: Rui.Zhao@ucdenver.ed

​Hongjin Zheng

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, CU
Dr. Hongjin Zheng

​We are interested in the broad field of structure and function relationship of membrane protiens and membrane protein complexes.  Right now, our focus is on the mechanism of protein translocation between cytosol and mitochondria.  We use primarily X-ray crystallography and Cry-Eletron Microscopy to explore the structural characteristics of the corresponding membrane proteins, so to understand their biological roles in the cell.

PubMed Publications

Lab Website

Phone: 303-724-9374





Elizabeth Wethington, Program Administrator
Voice: 303-724-7280 | Email:
12800 E. 19th Avenue, Mail Stop 8303, Research Complex 1 North Tower, Room 6129, Aurora, CO 80045

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