Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology

Biochemistry and Biophysics are the foundation of all cellular processes and systems. Biochemical processes account for the functions of cellular building blocks, from nucleic acids and proteins to lipids and metabolites, and the formation of complex networks that make a cell or system work. Biophysics explains the complexity of life with the simplicity of physical laws and math.

The mission of our collaborative unit ‘Biochemistry & Biophysics’ is to train the next generation of scientists and to uncover how life works at the molecular level. Our scientists study macromolecular complexes and their specificity, protein design and evolution, and molecular networks. We illuminate how the cytoskeleton determines cell shape, how cells transduce signals, how membranes fuse, how chromatin organizes the genome, how metabolism is coordinated, how viruses hijack cells, how the immune response works, and how cells form patterns and communicate with each other.

We are experts in bioengineering, structural biology, computation and modeling, optics and microscopy, and microfluidics. Some examples of the approaches being used, and in some cases developed, at Princeton include X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, NMR spectroscopy, super-resolution optical microscopy, single-molecule methods, and computational modeling. These tools are being applied to biological problems ranging from protein folding and design, to signal transduction, to intracellular trafficking.

A long-standing tradition and strength of our University is that biologists, chemists and physicists work closely together in an interdisciplinary setting. It is also common to see computational biologists working together with wet-lab biologists to address problems that neither could tackle alone with spectacular results. This is facilitated by the intimate connection between the Department of Molecular Biology with the Departments of Chemistry, Physics and Chemical and Biological Engineering, as well at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics.