TIANJIN UNIVERSITY
HEALTH SCIENCES PLATFORM

Home / Research / Structural Biology & Biophysics
Home / Research / Structural Biology & Biophysics
Structural Biology & Biophysics

1.  Using imaging techniques, as well as electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy to understand the molecular mechanisms of activities of macromolecules at high-resolution level.

2.  Using biophysical and biochemical techniques to investigate the interactions between the macromolecules.

3.  High-throughput screening the binding of ligand-receptor and compound-drug target.

4.  Structure-based rational drug design.

  • Haitao Yang

    Viruses are significant pathogens involved in human diseases throughout human history. Many of these virus-related human diseases have zoonotic origins, such as AIDS, bird flu, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). We focus on the essential stages of the viral life cycle: cellular entry, replication and transcription of the viral genome, and virion assembly and release to identify the pivotal targets for drug development. 

    To study the underlying mechanisms of interplay between viruses and their hosts will also help reveal new drug targets. Innate host immunity is the first line of defense against pathogen infection, playing a critical role in host resistance to pathogenic microorganisms. Interestingly, the viruses have evolved a variety of strategies to antagonize host restriction and escape the innate immune response. The interaction between host antiviral proteins and viral antagonizing proteins constitutes a dynamic and sophisticated network. Thus, strategies that boost the roles of host restriction while diminishing viral antagonism may lead to new therapies against viral infection.

  • Qingzhi Gao

    The research of the Gao group covers medicinal chemistry and molecular targeting, synthetic chemistry and organo catalysis, and computer-aided drug design, aimed at the discovery of functional drug delivery carriers and understanding mechanisms of molecular targeting. Specific areas include a) strategies for development of small molecular anti-cancer drugs for targeted therapy, b) design and development of actively transportable small molecule drugs or protein-drug conjugates, c) discovery and development of novel drug-delivery carriers and pharmaceutics based on supramolecular chemistry, d) computer aided molecular design and modeling for innovative drug discovery and mechanistic study of drug transporters.

  • JianHui Huang

    The research of the Huang group encompasses three main areas:  1) Studies towards the synthesis of heterocycles via transition metal catalysis, 2) Design and synthesis of useful active pharmaceutical ingredients, and 3) Late-stage functionalization of drug molecules and other materials.


  • Hans Lischka

    The research in the group of Lischka involves investigation of defect structures in materials with current applications to: grapheme nanoribbons, excitonic coupling and charge transfer in p-conjugated polymers as applied to photovoltaics, photostability of DNA; development of high-level quantum hemical methods and computer codes in the framework of COLUMBUS; full parallelization of MRCI method including analytic energyg radients and nonadiabatic couplings; onthe-fly nonadiabatic photodynamics (programsystemNEWTON-X) with application to biological systems including QM/MM approach.

  • Fumihiko Nakamura

    The Nakamura group focuses on the regulation of the cellular actin cytoskeleton and in particular on the molecular mechanisms of chemical and mechanical signal transduction (mechanotransduction), a conversion of mechanical forces into cellular biochemical signals. Mechanotransduction is essential for many physiological processes in diverse organisms during development and maintenance of all tissues. Defects in mechanotransduction, often caused by mutations or deregulation of proteins that disturb cellular or extracellular mechanics, are implicated in the development of various diseases, ranging from muscular dystrophies and hypertension-induced vascular and cardiac hypertrophy to cancer progression and metastasis. Despite its importance, little is known about the underlying mechanisms of mechanotransduction. The group uses a wide range of techniques including proteomics, microscopy, molecular biology, and cell biology, and appreciate collaboration with expertises in structural biology, mechanical engineering, single molecular analysis, computer simulation, and drug design.

  • Rajavel Srinivasan

    The research in the group of Srinivasan encompasses two main areas, 1) Developing new reaction methodologies: The research topics under this area include bioorthogonal reactions, late-stage modification of advanced chemical entities, C-H activation, and high-throughput amenable synthesis – aiming at advancing the way organic molecules are made for drug discovery and chemical biology applications. 2) Inhibitor discovery based on fragment-based approaches: Design and synthesis of ‘unconventional’ fragments with rich structural diversity. These fragments will be used as a starting point towards novel inhibitors for unexplored biological targets such as the AurB-INCENP interaction.

  • Jian Sun

    The research in the group of Sun involves investigation of B cell development and B cell related diseases. In recent years, immunotherapies with antibodies to depleting B cells are widely used in autoimmune diseases and B cell lymphoma. The strategy in this group is to design cytokine antagonist peptides using computer-aided design, fuse the peptides with human IgG Fc to form peptibodies by gene engineering, and analyze their activity in vitro and in vivo. Several peptibodies inhibiting B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS), a critical factor for B cell maturation and survival, are currently tested in cell culture and SLE animal models in this lab. Because overexpression of BLyS is involved in pathogenesis and development of autoimmune diseases and B cell malignances, the BLyS antagonists designed and analyzed may be potential therapeutic reagents for these diseases.

  • Jing Wei

    Wei’s research addresses mechanisms of drug activity with associated drug design.  Computational approaches (e.g., molecular docking, pharmacophore modeling, quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR), molecular dynamics) are used to identify and characterize putative ligand binding sites, elucidate binding mechanisms, and guide rational design of potentially new drugs.

  • Kenneth Woycechowsky

    The research in the Woycechowsky group focuses on the supramolecular chemistry of proteins. In particular, we are interested in proteins that assemble into symmetrical, closed-shell, polyhedral capsid structures. Protein capsids can act as molecular containers and delivery vehicles for a variety of molecular cargoes, and therefore are useful for bionanotechnological applications, such as drug delivery, catalysis, and materials synthesis. Protein engineering strategies are used to explore and exploit the supramolecular chemistry of protein capsids. This approach is inherently interdisciplinary, utilizing methods from biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and cell biology. Research projects in our lab fall into three main areas, including 1) capsid self-assembly, 2) molecular encapsulation, and 3) drug delivery.

  • Zhang Yan

    The Zhang group uses yeast genetics and a variety of biochemical and biophysical tools to investigate the intracellular trafficking of transition metals, the biosynthesis of metallo-cofactors, and the catalytic mechanisms of metallo-enzymes.

    The Zhang group is also interested in using gentically and enzymatically engeered microbes to produce valuable small molecules.

  • Michael Yuchi

    The research of Yuchi’s group centers on the structure and function of ion channels. Ion channels are the second largest target class for approved drugs. Drugs targeting ion channels are used to treat arrhythmia, neuropathic pain, epilepsy, anxiety and more. The ultimate goal of our group is to understand the physiological and pathological roles of ion channels at the molecular level. The specific questions we are tackling include: 1) the interaction network and regulation of ion channels involved in heart and muscle diseases; 2) how disease-causing mutations perturb the structure and function of critical ion channels; 3) how to target insect ion channels to develop novel biopesticides. To answer these questions, our lab combines a variety of complementary techniques, including X-ray crystallography, electrophysiology, calorimetry, in-silico drug screening, as well as many other biochemical, biophysical and computational methods. 

    Channel Regulation at High Resolution

    Disease-causing Mutations in Ion Channel

  • Yong Zhang

    The research in the group of Zhang is encompassed in the areas of chiral separation and proteomics analysis.

  • Jianyu Zhang

    无内容

  • Lijun Zhou

    The research in the group of Zhou encompasses three main areas, including, 1) Investigation of molecular pathogenesis of diseases and cell signaling pathways, and pharmacological mechanism of drug action, 2) Development of new small molecule based targeting anticancer drugs, e.g., TRAF6 as a new target of anti-tumor therapy, 3) Development of cells and C. elegans models, for high-throughput screenings, e.g., anti-aging drugs.

Structural Biology & Biophysics

1.  Using imaging techniques, as well as electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy to understand the molecular mechanisms of activities of macromolecules at high-resolution level.

2.  Using biophysical and biochemical techniques to investigate the interactions between the macromolecules.

3.  High-throughput screening the binding of ligand-receptor and compound-drug target.

4.  Structure-based rational drug design.

  • Haitao Yang -- Leader

    Viruses are significant pathogens involved in human diseases throughout human history. Many of these virus-related human diseases have zoonotic origins, such as AIDS, bird flu, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). We focus on the essential stages of the viral life cycle: cellular entry, replication and transcription of the viral genome, and virion assembly and release to identify the pivotal targets for drug development. 

    To study the underlying mechanisms of interplay between viruses and their hosts will also help reveal new drug targets. Innate host immunity is the first line of defense against pathogen infection, playing a critical role in host resistance to pathogenic microorganisms. Interestingly, the viruses have evolved a variety of strategies to antagonize host restriction and escape the innate immune response. The interaction between host antiviral proteins and viral antagonizing proteins constitutes a dynamic and sophisticated network. Thus, strategies that boost the roles of host restriction while diminishing viral antagonism may lead to new therapies against viral infection.

  • Qingzhi Gao

    The research of the Gao group covers medicinal chemistry and molecular targeting, synthetic chemistry and organo catalysis, and computer-aided drug design, aimed at the discovery of functional drug delivery carriers and understanding mechanisms of molecular targeting. Specific areas include a) strategies for development of small molecular anti-cancer drugs for targeted therapy, b) design and development of actively transportable small molecule drugs or protein-drug conjugates, c) discovery and development of novel drug-delivery carriers and pharmaceutics based on supramolecular chemistry, d) computer aided molecular design and modeling for innovative drug discovery and mechanistic study of drug transporters.

  • JianHui Huang

    The research of the Huang group encompasses three main areas:  1) Studies towards the synthesis of heterocycles via transition metal catalysis, 2) Design and synthesis of useful active pharmaceutical ingredients, and 3) Late-stage functionalization of drug molecules and other materials.


  • Hans Lischka

    The research in the group of Lischka involves investigation of defect structures in materials with current applications to: grapheme nanoribbons, excitonic coupling and charge transfer in p-conjugated polymers as applied to photovoltaics, photostability of DNA; development of high-level quantum hemical methods and computer codes in the framework of COLUMBUS; full parallelization of MRCI method including analytic energyg radients and nonadiabatic couplings; onthe-fly nonadiabatic photodynamics (programsystemNEWTON-X) with application to biological systems including QM/MM approach.

  • Fumihiko Nakamura

    The Nakamura group focuses on the regulation of the cellular actin cytoskeleton and in particular on the molecular mechanisms of chemical and mechanical signal transduction (mechanotransduction), a conversion of mechanical forces into cellular biochemical signals. Mechanotransduction is essential for many physiological processes in diverse organisms during development and maintenance of all tissues. Defects in mechanotransduction, often caused by mutations or deregulation of proteins that disturb cellular or extracellular mechanics, are implicated in the development of various diseases, ranging from muscular dystrophies and hypertension-induced vascular and cardiac hypertrophy to cancer progression and metastasis. Despite its importance, little is known about the underlying mechanisms of mechanotransduction. The group uses a wide range of techniques including proteomics, microscopy, molecular biology, and cell biology, and appreciate collaboration with expertises in structural biology, mechanical engineering, single molecular analysis, computer simulation, and drug design.

  • Rajavel Srinivasan

    The research in the group of Srinivasan encompasses two main areas, 1) Developing new reaction methodologies: The research topics under this area include bioorthogonal reactions, late-stage modification of advanced chemical entities, C-H activation, and high-throughput amenable synthesis – aiming at advancing the way organic molecules are made for drug discovery and chemical biology applications. 2) Inhibitor discovery based on fragment-based approaches: Design and synthesis of ‘unconventional’ fragments with rich structural diversity. These fragments will be used as a starting point towards novel inhibitors for unexplored biological targets such as the AurB-INCENP interaction.

  • Jian Sun

    The research in the group of Sun involves investigation of B cell development and B cell related diseases. In recent years, immunotherapies with antibodies to depleting B cells are widely used in autoimmune diseases and B cell lymphoma. The strategy in this group is to design cytokine antagonist peptides using computer-aided design, fuse the peptides with human IgG Fc to form peptibodies by gene engineering, and analyze their activity in vitro and in vivo. Several peptibodies inhibiting B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS), a critical factor for B cell maturation and survival, are currently tested in cell culture and SLE animal models in this lab. Because overexpression of BLyS is involved in pathogenesis and development of autoimmune diseases and B cell malignances, the BLyS antagonists designed and analyzed may be potential therapeutic reagents for these diseases.

  • Jing Wei

    Wei’s research addresses mechanisms of drug activity with associated drug design.  Computational approaches (e.g., molecular docking, pharmacophore modeling, quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR), molecular dynamics) are used to identify and characterize putative ligand binding sites, elucidate binding mechanisms, and guide rational design of potentially new drugs.

  • Kenneth Woycechowsky

    The research in the Woycechowsky group focuses on the supramolecular chemistry of proteins. In particular, we are interested in proteins that assemble into symmetrical, closed-shell, polyhedral capsid structures. Protein capsids can act as molecular containers and delivery vehicles for a variety of molecular cargoes, and therefore are useful for bionanotechnological applications, such as drug delivery, catalysis, and materials synthesis. Protein engineering strategies are used to explore and exploit the supramolecular chemistry of protein capsids. This approach is inherently interdisciplinary, utilizing methods from biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and cell biology. Research projects in our lab fall into three main areas, including 1) capsid self-assembly, 2) molecular encapsulation, and 3) drug delivery.

  • Zhang Yan

    The Zhang group uses yeast genetics and a variety of biochemical and biophysical tools to investigate the intracellular trafficking of transition metals, the biosynthesis of metallo-cofactors, and the catalytic mechanisms of metallo-enzymes.

    The Zhang group is also interested in using gentically and enzymatically engeered microbes to produce valuable small molecules.

  • Michael Yuchi

    The research of Yuchi’s group centers on the structure and function of ion channels. Ion channels are the second largest target class for approved drugs. Drugs targeting ion channels are used to treat arrhythmia, neuropathic pain, epilepsy, anxiety and more. The ultimate goal of our group is to understand the physiological and pathological roles of ion channels at the molecular level. The specific questions we are tackling include: 1) the interaction network and regulation of ion channels involved in heart and muscle diseases; 2) how disease-causing mutations perturb the structure and function of critical ion channels; 3) how to target insect ion channels to develop novel biopesticides. To answer these questions, our lab combines a variety of complementary techniques, including X-ray crystallography, electrophysiology, calorimetry, in-silico drug screening, as well as many other biochemical, biophysical and computational methods. 

    Channel Regulation at High Resolution

    Disease-causing Mutations in Ion Channel

  • Yong Zhang

    The research in the group of Zhang is encompassed in the areas of chiral separation and proteomics analysis.

  • Jianyu Zhang

    无内容

  • Lijun Zhou

    The research in the group of Zhou encompasses three main areas, including, 1) Investigation of molecular pathogenesis of diseases and cell signaling pathways, and pharmacological mechanism of drug action, 2) Development of new small molecule based targeting anticancer drugs, e.g., TRAF6 as a new target of anti-tumor therapy, 3) Development of cells and C. elegans models, for high-throughput screenings, e.g., anti-aging drugs.