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.
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
Cryo-Electron Tomography Center
Center of Mass Spectrometry for Structural Biology
Understanding life at the molecular level using data science
Understanding structure-function relationships in complex biochemical systems at the single-molecule scale
Investigating how cells regulate the expression of their genome
Determining the functional mechanisms of complex protein machineries
Exploring the role of phase separation by intrinsically disordered proteins in biological processes and disease mechanisms
Investigating molecular mechanisms of membrane signaling complexes
Investigating mechanisms underlying liquid-liquid phase separation and how they determine functional and pathological processes
Investigating programmed cell death in cancer biology
Using mass spectrometry-based proteomics, metabolomics and systems biology to understand human disease
Exploring structural and pharmacological studies of membrane proteins and protein machineries
Performing structural analyses of catalysis and DNA repair
Brenda A. Schulman, PhD
Dissecting cellular regulation by ubiquitin-like proteins
Charalampos G. Kalodimos, PhD
Chair, Joseph Simone Endowed Chair in Basic Research
Lynette J. Nelson, PhD
Elisabetta Bini, PhD
Director of Lab Operations
Inês Chen, PhD
Director of Scientific & Strategic Operations
Zhaowen Luo, MSc
Scientific Visualization Engineer
Administrative Assistant II
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!