Biological Chemistry Division


James Rusling, Professor†of Chemistry at the Storrs campus and Professor of Cell Biology at Uconn Health Center.

The research program of his group focuses on development of arrays for toxicity screening by

electro‐optical and LC‐MS methods, “microfluidic arrays for early detection of cancer via ultrasensitive protein measurements¨ and fundamental characteristics of thin films of photosynthetic and other redox proteins for energy applications.


Group web site:

Robert R. Birge is Harold S. Schwenk Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Molecular & Cell Biology.

His research group works on vertebrate vision and protein-based devices. The work in vision focuses on the mechanism of cone photoreception and includes the development of artificial retinal implants. The work in protein-based devices involves the optimization of the archaeal proton pump bacteriorhodopsin for application in artificial retinas and protein-based optical memories and Fourier transform associative processors.

Ashis Basu is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Connecticut. 

The research focus of the Basu laboratory is determination of the consequences of DNA damaged by anti-tumor drugs, chemical carcinogens, oxidation or radiation.  This research at the interface of Chemistry and Biology involves introduction of specific lesions in DNA by chemical synthesis, investigation of the structural effects of the lesions, and studying their repair and replication in vitro and in vivo.

Group web site:

Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut.

Our mission is to apply basic principles of chemistry to important problems in biology. There are three primary foci for our research.  We have three major areas of research:

  1. 1. DNA/RNA Binders.  Our goal is to develop rational approaches for the design of small molecules and proteins for binding to DNA and RNA.  Calorimetric studies coupled with organic synthetic methods provided valuable clues for the design.

  2. 2.Protein PhotoScissors.  Our goal is to design small molecules that bind to specific sites on particular proteins and cleave the protein backbone on photoactivation.  Photochemical studies coupled with synthetic methods provided rational approaches for the design of photoscissors.  This is a unique program in the field.

  3. 3.Biocatalytic Nanomaterials.  Our goal is to design, synthesize and test enzymes that function at elevated temperatures (> 100 ˚C).  Calorimetry, optical spectroscopy, materials science methods are combined to develop systematic approaches to make novel bionanomaterials with high stability and catalytic activities.

Group web site:


FAculty and their research Interests

Harry A. Frank is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Connecticut. 

His research is focusing on the molecular details of energy and electron transfer in photosynthesis with particular attention being given to the various roles carotenoids play in the process.  These include light-harvesting, photoprotection, singlet oxygen scavenging, excess energy dissipation, protein structure stabilization, energy flow regulation, and acting as redox components.  His group uses bioanalytical methods for sample preparation and analysis, and steady-state and time-resolved molecular spectroscopic techniques to probe the energies and dynamics of the excited states of the protein-bound pigments.  The overall goal of the work is to understand the relationship between the structure of the photosynthetic apparatus and its physiological function of converting solar energy into chemical potential. 

Group web site:

Gabriel Fenteany is Associate Professor of Chemistry and a member of the Cell Biology Program at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

His research program focuses on applying chemical approaches to understanding and controlling basic and disease-relevant processes in cell biology. Working at the interface of chemistry and biology, the Fenteany group seeks to answer questions relevant to wound healing, cancer and embryonic development. Specifically, the current research in his lab revolves around the following general project areas:

  1. 1)Organic chemistry to synthesize bioactive small molecules.

  2. 2)Identification, manipulation and exploitation of new compounds that affect cell migration, and characterization of the molecular targets of these compounds.

  3. 3)Molecular mechanism of action of antimigratory compounds; protein-small molecule interactions.

  4. 4)Biochemical and cellular analysis of signaling pathways and function of specific proteins involved in cell motility.

  5. 5)Mechanism underlying how groups of cells collectively generate force to drive movement of epithelial cell sheets.

James Cole,  Professor of Molecular and Cell BiologyBiology, joint Appointment with Department of Chemistry.

The Cole lab uses biophysical approaches to characterize macromolecular interactions that regulate important biological processes. We are particularly interested in defining host-virus interactions that are ammenable to therapeutic intervention. A major project in our group is to define how the antiviral kinase PKR is activated by RNA and inhibited by viral regulators. We rely heavily on analytical ultracentrifugation experiments performed at our facility at the University of Connecticut, but we also make extensive use of fluorescence, microcalorimetry, light scattering and small angle X-ray and neutron scattering.

Group Web Site:

Xudong Yao, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Connecticut.

His research group studies Proteomic Chemistry to measure and understand the complex and dynamic proteome and, in particular, apply and develop small molecules for facilitating mass spectrometry of proteome samples.

Another research area is mass spectrometric analysis of the folding and interaction of membrane proteins in vivo.

Group web site: