Students interested in Structural Biology pursue research designed to determine the 3D structures of proteins and nucleic acids using a variety of methods, including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, x-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. Through the use of these different structural methodologies, we are able to gain unique and complementary information about the structure of macromolecules. These structures, in turn, provide important insights into the molecular basis of function and provide a framework for the design of experiments to address biological processes involving the macromolecules under investigation. Structures of medically relevant targets can also play a critical role in accelerating the process of drug design through the use of structure-based lead compound discovery.
Structural biology laboratories at the University of Virginia have established strengths in integral membrane proteins, structural genomics, cell signaling factors, as well as macromolecular assemblies such virus particles and filaments.