A molecular model showing the synaptic vesicle fusion machinery. On the left is shown the assembled SNARE complex containing the vesicle membrane protein synaptobrevin (blue), the two plasma membrane proteins SNAP25 (green) and syntaxin (red), as well as complexin (purple). The calcium sensor for fusion, synaptotagmin, is shown on the right with its two C2 domains (orange). Courtesy of Drs. Volker Kiessling and Lukas Tamm.

Biophysicists at UVA utilize quantitative approaches to understand the physical and chemical basis of complex biological processes.

Biological processes are studied at every level and across many fields, from the theoretical to the experimental.

The Biophysics Graduate Program at the University of Virginia is one of the oldest in the country. We employ a wide range of experimental and computational approaches in a highly interactive and multidisciplinary environment.  One of our strengths is in the study of membranes, which are of fundamental importance for biological systems. Membranes compartmentalize the cell, thereby controlling the internal cellular environment.  They are sites for energy transduction and signaling.  Finally, many regulatory processes take place at membrane surfaces.

Students in biophysics at UVA gain a strong foundation in biophysical approaches and analysis through innovative research and didactic coursework.


  • David T. Auble
    Molecular Mechanisms of Transcriptional Regulation
  • Paula Q. Barrett
    Regulation of low-voltage activated T-type Ca2+ channel activity by kinases and heterotrimeric G-proteins and their roles in physiological responses.
  • Douglas A. Bayliss
    Mechanisms of neuromodulation in central neurons
  • Stefan Bekiranov
    Physical Modeling of Microarray Hybridization; Analysis of Genomic Tiling Array Data; Bioinformatics; Computational Biology; Regulatory Networks
  • Jay C. Brown
    Structure and Assembly of the Herpes Simplex Virus Capsid.
  • John H. Bushweller
    Structural and Functional Basis for Oncogenesis; Targeted Drug Development; Structural Studies of Membrane Proteins
  • David S. Cafiso
    Molecular Mechanisms for Membrane Transport and Cell Signaling
  • Steven Caliari
    Engineering dynamic biomaterials to explore the interplay between cells and their microenvironment
  • J. David Castle
    Intracellular cholesterol and the regulation of insulin secretion and membrane trafficking.
  • Linda Columbus
    Biophysical Chemistry: Membrane protein structure, function, and dynamics
  • Carl E. Creutz
    Calcium-dependent, membrane-binding proteins and mechanisms of exocytosis
  • Zygmunt S. Derewenda
    Structure-function relationships in proteins
  • Kateri H. DuBay
    The design of self-assembling nanomaterials
  • Edward H. Egelman
    Structure and Function of Macromolecular Complexes Using Electron Microscopy
  • Salem Faham
    Structural biology of membrane proteins; Structure/function and structure/stability relationships and the development of new tools for protein crystallization.
  • Robin A. Felder
    Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology. Medical Automation Research. Neurotransmitters, cell surface receptors and intracellular second messengers.
  • Andreas Gahlmann
    Bacterial cell biology at the molecular level
  • George T. Gillies
    Design of novel neurosurgical instrumentation systems, including magnetic stereotactic devices
  • William H. Guilford
    Molecular Mechanics of Muscle Contraction and Cell Movement
  • Tajie H. Harris
    Immune response to infectious disease in the CNS
  • Brian P. Helmke
    Intracellular Mechanics and Cell Function
  • Jeffrey W. Holmes
    Healing after myocardial infarction, cardiac growth and remodeling, and image-based modeling and diagnosis.
  • John A. Hossack
    Diagnostic Ultrasound Transducers; Beam Forming and Imaging. Breast Ultrasound; Obstructive Sleep Apnea; 3D Ultrasound and Microbubbles
  • Ku-Lung Hsu
    Lipid Metabolism in Inflammation and Immunity
  • Brant Isakson
    Intercellular communication as it relates to blood pressure regulation
  • Peter M. Kasson
    Mechanisms of cell entry by influenza; Viral glycan recognition; drug resistance; molecular dynamics simulation; distributed computing.
  • Raymond E. Keller
    Cellular and molecular mechanisms of morphogenesis
  • Kimberly Kelly
    Advancement in the design of imaging agents; molecular imaging and radiological sciences.
  • Mark Kester
    Nanotechnologies for targeted drug delivery
  • Bijoy Kundu
    Positron Emission Tomography Imaging of Remodeling of Myocardial Glucose Metabolism in Pressure Overload Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
  • James P. Landers
    Bioanalytical Chemistry on Microchips
  • Michael B. Lawrence
    Vascular and Molecular Engineering
  • William B. Levy
    The neural bases of cognition; Computational theories of brain function
  • Deforest Mellon
    Sensory System Organization and Development
  • Wladek Minor
    Structure-Function Relationships in Proteins; Structural Genomics; Bioinformatics
  • Cameron Mura
    Structure, function & evolution of RNA-processing assemblies; structural and computational biology; molecular biophysics
  • Robert K. Nakamoto
    Structure-Function of Active Transporters
  • Jason Papin
    Systems biology, infectious disease, cancer, toxicology, metabolic engineering
  • Manoj Patel
    Modulation of sodium channel gating by beta subunits and novel sodium channel blockers; Synaptic transmission in dorsal horn neurons
  • William R. Pearson
    Protein Evolution; Computational Biology
  • Shayn M. Peirce-Cottler
    Tissue Engineering and Regeneration, Computational Systems Biology, Vascular Growth and Remodeling, Stem Cell Therapies
  • Ammasi Periasamy
    Imaging of Proteins in Living (or fixed) Cells and Tissues Using Light Microscopy Systems
  • Rebecca Pompano
    Our lab develops methods based on microfluidic culture systems, bioanalytical techniques, and spatially resolved simulations to quantify the spatiotemporal dynamics of the inflammatory cascade and develop targeted therapies.
  • Owen Pornillos
    Structure and assembly of HIV Virus/host interactions Structural biology of the innate immune system
  • Richard J. Price
    Endothelial Phenotypes in Angiogenesis, Integrated Signaling for Microvascular Network Patterning, and Contrast Ultrasound Based Therapeutics
  • Christopher Stroupe
    Biochemical, biophysical, structural, and cell biological studies of intracellular membrane tethering and fusion
  • P. Todd Stukenberg
    Mechanisms of chromosome segregation in Mitosis and generation of Chromosomal Instability in tumors
  • Nathan Swami
    Molecular and bioelectric devices; tissue regeneration.
  • Lukas K. Tamm
    Biomembrane Structure and Function; Cell Entry of Enveloped Viruses; Neurosecretion by Exocytosis; Structure of Bacterial Pathogen Membrane Proteins; Lipid-Protein Interactions
  • B. Jill Venton
    Analytical Neurochemistry; Dopamine and Serotonin Neurotransmission in Drosophila; Mechanisms of rapid adenosine signaling in rodents
  • Judith M. White
    Virus Entry into Cells: Mechanisms and Development of Anti-Viral Therapeutics
  • Michael C. Wiener
    Structural biology (esp. crystallography) of integral membrane proteins; TonB-dependent active transport across the bacterial outer membrane; cancer-related membrane proteins; crystallization methods development
  • Mark B. Williams
    Design, Development and Optimization of Medical Imaging Technologies
  • Mark Yeager
    Cardiac Gap Junction Membrane Channels / Integrins Water Channels / Rotavirus / Reovirus / Retrovirus
  • J. Julius Zhu
    Neural Circuits in Healthy and Diseased Brains
  • Jochen Zimmer
    Transport of biopolymers across biological membranes with a particular interest in polysaccharide and protein translocation.