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Oklahoma Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Structural Biology

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Oklahoma Center for Biomedical Research Excellence in Structural Biology

The NIH-funded COBRE (structuralbiology.ou.edu), under the direction of Professor Ann West, comprises an active team of researchers who use the three-dimensional structures of biological macromolecules to shed light on their physiological functions. The “work horses” of a cell are an immense collection of macromolecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids that are designed for specific functions to elicit appropriate physiological responses. To correctly perform their unique functions, these macromolecules must fold properly into a three-dimensional structure capable of interacting with their natural targets, such as enzyme substrates and cofactors, as well as with small molecule drugs.

Our COBRE researchers partner with colleagues in the OU Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology and the OU Health Sciences Center. The central theme is focused on X-ray crystallographic and computational approaches to understand the important relationship between structure and biological activity. The research has direct relevance to human diseases and conditions associated with aging, cancer, host-pathogen interactions, bacterial infections and immunity. The COBRE is amultidisciplinary enterprise that is based on the research interests and expertise of center participants, and includes biochemistry,bioinorganic chemistry, virology, parasitology, immunology, cell biology, enzymology, bacteriology, and computational biophysics. 

Student training: Students in the COBRE research programs will, in addition to being trained in their specific research program area, gain hands-on training and expertise in the crystallization of biological macromolecules and in structure solution using X-ray crystallography. Career options include employment in drug development companies, academia, and in national laboratories.