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Structural Biology and Biophysics (Cluster)

The Structural Biology and Biophysics cluster provides graduate training in this exciting and important area for biomedical research that draws upon concepts and approaches from biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.  Students gain fluency in the ‘languages’ of the underlying disciplines and learn to frame biological questions and also to develop and/or deploy multidisciplinary tools to answer these questions. 

The cluster features a vibrant group of more than two dozen accomplished and highly collaborative faculty with diverse research interests in structural biology, drug design, mechanistic biology, computational biology and informatics, and chemical biology.  A variety of biological questions exploring molecular phenomena that impact gene transcription, translation, metal trafficking and homeostasis, electron transfer, mitochondrial positioning, viral fusion, chromosome structure, DNA-centric processes, RNA maturation, proteostasis, transport processes within the cell and across cell membranes, metabolic networks, and cellular signaling are being studied using physical approaches and/or principles. Northwestern University provides outstanding research resources including state-of-the-art instrumentation and fully staffed facilities for students aspiring to do cutting-edge research in these areas. 

Information on the NIH funded Molecular Biophysics Training Grant (T32) can be found here.

Programs and Events

The cluster sponsors a variety of extra-didactic enrichment activities for students including biweekly biophysics seminars and monthly journal clubs that highlight exciting recent developments in this area.  These events provide numerous opportunities for students to develop oral presentation skills and receive feedback on their research projects.

Who to Contact

Besides providing a highly interactive and interdisciplinary research environment, student trainees share a common learning experience through didactic coursework at the introductory and advanced levels on contemporary structural biology and biophysics


Graduate-level Courses Developed by Cluster Faculty

  • Molecular Biophysics (IBiS 401)
  • Macromolecular Structure and Function (DGP 465)
  • Structural Basis of Signal Transduction  (DGP 466)
  • Biophysical Methods for Macromolecular Analysis (IBiS 409)
  • Quantitative Biology (IBiS 410)
  • Structural Biology Workshop