Biochemistry

In the Biochemistry Department, we are a vigorous group of scientists and trainees dedicated to the expansion and transmission of knowledge about the biological world. Our particular focus is the characterization of macromolecules and biological processes at the molecular level. Research groups in the department address the structure of biological macromolecules, the mechanisms by which they function, and the possible applications to research technology and to medicine.

Latest News

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Virus-Inspired Delivery System Transfers Microscopic Cargo Between Human Cells
Research
Nov 30, 2016

Virus-Inspired Delivery System Transfers Microscopic Cargo Between Human Cells

virus, protein design

Scientists from the University of Utah and University of Washington have developed blueprints that instruct human cells to assemble a virus-like delivery system that can transport custom cargo from one cell to another. As reported online in Nature on Nov. 30, the research is a step toward a nature-inspired means for delivering therapeutics directly to specific cell types within the body.... Read More

Biochemistry
Genome Engineering Paves the Way for Sickle Cell Cure
Oct 12, 2016

Genome Engineering Paves the Way for Sickle Cell Cure

genome engineering

A team of physicians and laboratory scientists has taken a key step toward a cure for sickle cell disease, using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to fix the mutated gene responsible for the disease in stem cells from the blood of affected patients. For the first time, they have corrected the mutation in a proportion of stem cells that is high enough to produce a substantial benefit in sickle cell patients.... Read More

Biochemistry
Snails’ Speedy Insulin
Research
Sep 12, 2016

Snails’ Speedy Insulin

diabetes

University of Utah researchers have found that the structure of an insulin molecule produced by predatory cone snails may be an improvement over current fast-acting therapeutic insulin. The finding suggests that the cone snail insulin, produced by the snails to stun their prey, could begin working in as few as five minutes, compared with 15 minutes for the fastest-acting insulin currently available. ... Read More

Biochemistry
University of Utah Biochemist Is 1 of 4 Researchers Globally to Receive JDRF Grants to Develop ‘Smart’ Glucose-Responsive Insulin
Research
Feb 25, 2016

University of Utah Biochemist Is 1 of 4 Researchers Globally to Receive JDRF Grants to Develop ‘Smart’ Glucose-Responsive Insulin

diabetes, type 1 diabetes

University of Utah biochemist Danny Chou, Ph.D., is one of four researchers worldwide to receive a grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi US Services Inc. to develop glucose-responsive insulin to help millions of people with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) maintain proper blood glucose levels. ... Read More

Biochemistry
A Molecular Noose Caught in the Act
Research
Dec 03, 2015

A Molecular Noose Caught in the Act

One of the most fundamental challenges that a cell faces is how to bring membranes that are far apart, close together. New research in Science shows how cellular machinery, called ESCRT (Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport), accomplishes this essential task. ... Read More

Biochemistry

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Formosa did undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis, doctoral studies with Bruce Alberts at the University of California, San Francisco, and postdoctoral studies with Lee Hartwell at the University of Washington before joining the faculty of the University of Utah.
A eukaryotic cell needs to package as much as 2 meters of DNA into a space that is about 0.00002 meters in diameter. Pretty good trick! Part of the way this is accomplished involves wrapping ~200 base pair segments of DNA (about 30 million of them in the example above) around octamers of histone proteins to form the nucleosomes that are the first layer of organization of the compact form of genetic material called chromatin. Chromatin forms a potent barrier to inappropriate access to the genetic information in the DNA, but... 
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Dr. Formosa did undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis, doctoral studies with Bruce Alberts at the University of California, San Francisco, and postdoctoral studies with Lee Hartwell at the University of Washington before joining the faculty of the University of Utah.

A eukaryotic cell needs to package as much as 2 meters of DNA into a space that is about 0.00002 meters in diameter. Pretty good trick! Part of the way this is accomplished involves wrapping ~200 base pair segments of DNA (about 30 million of them in the example above) around octamers of histone proteins to form the nucleosomes that are the first layer of organization of the compact form of genetic material called chromatin. Chromatin forms a potent barrier to inappropriate access to the genetic information in the DNA, but... 

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