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Center for Structural Biology

Transforming our understanding of molecular biological structures and their movements through interdisciplinary collaboration. 

Structural biology provides a detailed three-dimensional view of molecules that guides the determination of mechanisms driving many cellular processes. The primary goal of the Center is to make transformative advances in the field of structural biology available across Penn State to complement the on-going research of our productive scientists. 

Novel developments in the field of cryogenic electron-microscopy (cryo EM) have opened possibilities for studying dynamic behavior of macromolecules at atomic resolutions. The University has augmented the disciplines of crystallography and NMR with the acquisition of state-of-the-art electron microscopes and recruitment of additional expert researchers skilled in high-resolution cryo-EM. 

In addition, the center links biomedical engineering, computational resources, material scientists, and machine learning experts to find novel approaches and solutions. Thus the center is an interdisciplinary resource that links scientists across multiple departments, colleges, and campuses.


How does Zika virus replicate and transmit from mother to fetus?

In 2015, an outbreak of Zika virus, driven by a heavy rain season and subsequent boom in the virus’s host mosquito population, caused thousands of babies in Brazil to be born with severe birth defects.

Biochemist selected as Innovation Fund investigator by Pew Charitable Trusts

Katsuhiko Murakami, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, has been selected as a member of the 2023 class of Innovation Fund investigators by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eberly’s 2022 Lab Bench to Commercialization grant recipients announced

The Eberly College of Science has chosen faculty members Joyce Jose and Sally Mackenzie to receive its 2022 Lab Bench to Commercialization grants. This competitive program provides funding for researchers in the college, enabling them to enhance the commercial potential of ongoing Penn State research and prepare them to translate their Penn State-owned intellectual property to the marketplace.

Researchers film human viruses in liquid droplets at near-atomic detail

A research team led by Deb Kelly, Huck Chair in Molecular Biophysics and professor of biomedical engineering at Penn State, has used advanced electron microscopy (EM) technology to see how human viruses move in high resolution in a near-native environment. The visualization technique could lead to improved understanding of how vaccine candidates and treatments behave and function as they interact with target cells, Kelly said.