About the Department

The primary goal of the Department of Structural Biology at St. Jude is to understand life and disease at the atomic level.  

We use sophisticated biophysical techniques — such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, single-molecule imaging, and mass spectrometry — to determine the three-dimensional structures and dynamics of biological macromolecules. These experimental methods are combined with computational and data-science approaches, to provide insight into how macromolecules move, alter their structures and interact with other molecules, in order to carry out their biological functions. Such integrative studies expand our understanding of the most fundamental biological processes and of the diseases that arise when those processes go awry.  

Researchers in our department are working to decipher the biophysical principles and molecular details of key cellular processes, including gene expression, subcellular organization, oncogenesis, protein translation, protein folding and misfolding, fatty acid biosynthesis, membrane transport, signaling and cell death. Atomic-level information of proteins and macromolecular complexes provide fundamental insights and can help design new therapeutics, materials and diagnostic tools.  

Core Centers

The Technology Core Centers at the Structural Biology Department provide investigators with access to cutting-edge equipment and methodologies. Each Center is managed by dedicated staff scientists who provide training and support to researchers investigating structure–function of proteins and of macromolecular complexes. With in-house scientific expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, the Centers enable the combination of multiple approaches to tackle challenging biological problems, thus empowering integrative structural biology. 

Protein Technologies Center 
Director: Ravi Kalathur, PhD 

Biomolecular NMR Center
Director: Youlin Xia, PhD

Biomolecular X-Ray Crystallography Center
Director: Darcie Miller, PhD 

Cryo-Electron Microscopy Center
Director: Israel Fernandez, PhD

Single-Molecule Imaging Center
Director: Alessandro Borgia, PhD 

Core Center for Data-Driven Discovery
(in development) 

Cryo-Electron Tomography Center
(in development) 

Center of Mass Spectrometry for Structural Biology
(in development)

Focus Areas

M. Madan Babu, PhD, FRSC

Understanding life at the molecular level using data science

Scott Blanchard, PhD

Understanding structure-function relationships in complex biochemical systems at the single-molecule scale 

Mario Halic, PhD

Investigating how cells regulate the expression of their genome

Charalampos G. Kalodimos, PhD

Determining the functional mechanisms of complex protein machineries

Richard W. Kriwacki, PhD

Exploring the role of phase separation by intrinsically disordered proteins in biological processes and disease mechanisms

Chia-Hsueh Lee, PhD

Investigating molecular mechanisms of membrane signaling complexes

Tanja Mittag, PhD

Investigating mechanisms underlying liquid-liquid phase separation and how they determine functional and pathological processes

Tudor Moldoveanu, PhD

Investigating programmed cell death in cancer biology

Junming Peng, PhD

Using mass spectrometry-based proteomics, metabolomics and systems biology to understand human disease 

Ji Sun, PhD

Exploring structural and pharmacological studies of membrane proteins and protein machineries

Stephen White, DPhil

Performing structural analyses of catalysis and DNA repair

Adjunct Faculty 
Brenda A. Schulman, PhD 

Brenda A. Schulman, PhD

Dissecting cellular regulation by ubiquitin-like proteins

Department Team

Charalampos G. Kalodimos, PhD
Chair, Joseph Simone Endowed Chair in Basic Research 

Lynette J. Nelson, PhD
Administrative Director 

Elisabetta Bini, PhD
Director of Lab Operations 

Inês Chen, PhD
Director of Scientific & Strategic Operations 

Zhaowen Luo, MSc
Scientific Visualization Engineer 

Sarah Alston
Executive Assistant 

Angela Williams 
Executive Assistant 

Briana Jackson
Administrative Specialist 

Swapna Loku
Administrative Assistant II

Join us

St. Jude investigators have the freedom to focus on making big discoveries, backed by extraordinary resources and support teams. We are always looking for highly motivated scientists and engineers with passion and talent to join us! 

Explore Career Opportunities in Structural Biology

We are currently recruiting!

Contact us

Structural Biology MS311

St. Jude Children Research Hospital

262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA
901-595-2917 lynette.nelson@stjude.org

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262 Danny Thomas Place
Memphis, TN, 38105-3678 USA