MED Researchers

Kirill Afonin, Ph.D.

Kirill Afonin, Ph.D.

704-687-0685
CBES Area of Expertise:

Overall, I gained an international and multidisciplinary scientific training in chemistry, photo-and biochemistry, bioinformatics, and cancer research.  My main expertise is in computational and experimental RNA biology.

CBES Area of Interest:

My main research focus involves working on understanding processes related to RNA folding and self-assembly, as well as structure-to-function relationships, with the goal of designing de novo functional RNA-based nanoparticles and nanodevices with novel characteristics such as the control and sensing of cellular processes.


Wei Cai, Ph.D.

Wei Cai, Ph.D.

704-687-4581
CBES Area of Expertise:

Development of fast numerical methods for electrostatics interactions and hybrid salvation models for biomolecules.

CBES Area of Interest:

Biomedical applications that include multiscale modeling and computational biology.


Shaozhong Deng, Ph.D.

Shaozhong Deng, Ph.D.

704-687-6657
CBES Area of Expertise:

Computational structural biology, in particular, hybrid explicit/implicit solvent method for biomolecular simulations. 

CBES Area of Interest:

Working on computational structural biology, in particular, on hybrid explicit/implicit solvent methold for biomolecular simulations.


Donald J. Jacobs, Ph.D.

Donald J. Jacobs, Ph.D.

704-687-8143
CBES Area of Expertise:

Biophysical modeling involving development of algorithms for computational biology applications.

CBES Area of Interest:

My research centers on biophysical modeling involving development of algorithms for computational biology applications.  My main activity is funded by the National Institutes of Health to develop “FAST” software that provides a Flexibility and Stability Test for proteins with known three-dimensional structure to predict their thermodynamic and mechanical properties within a cellular environment.  Our FAST predictions reveal Quantitative Stability/Flexibility Relationships (QSFR).  A QSFR database augmented with bioinformatics and statistical analysis tools is being developed.  Through FAST/QSFR we can obtain improved descriptions of protein structure/function relationships, protein-substrate association and the protein folding/unfolding process. Our methods will facilitate novel homology modeling schemes, better sequence and structural alignment tools, and prediction of protein oligomerization states and their associated changes in stability and flexibility. Together, our FAST software and QSFR database will support myriad biologically significant applications in pharmacology and rational protein design including engineering of highly stable enzyme catalysts for industrial purposes.


Joanna Krueger, Ph.D.

Joanna Krueger, Ph.D.

704-687-4913
CBES Area of Expertise:

Biophysical Chemistry

CBES Area of Interest:

Structural information on biomolecular associations using the techniques of small-angle  X-ray and neutron scattering, chemical cross-linking with peptide analysis by MS, selected-site mutagenesis and spectroscopy (FTIR, CD, UV-VIS); and visualized through the use of molecular modeling.


Yuri Nesmelov, Ph.D.

Yuri Nesmelov, Ph.D.

704-687-5886
CBES Area of Expertise:

Spectroscopy of electron paramagnetic resonance, optical spectroscopy, biophysics of molecular motors.

CBES Area of Interest:

My research interests are focused on biological molecular motors. I study myosin, the protein responsible for force generation in muscle, cell locomotion and intracellular trafficking. I combine protein mutagenesis, site directed labeling, multifrequency electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and transient time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR2FRET) to explore myosin functional dynamics on molecular and submolecular level. The ultimate goal of these studies is to determine the mechanism of force generation in myosin.  I am also interested in manipulating of microwave field distribution in EPR cavity to maximize sensitivity of EPR measurement for aqueous samples, through the sample geometry optimization and usage of ferroelectric/dielectric cavity inserts.


Irina Nesmelova, Ph.D.

Irina Nesmelova, Ph.D.

704-687-8145
CBES Area of Expertise:

The application of NMR spectroscopy to study the structure, interactions and dynamics of proteins and small molecules.

CBES Area of Interest:

My research is focused on understanding the dynamic pictures of how proteins interact with each other and with ligands (including DNA).  This information is then used to re-engineer the interactions according to the need of specific biological system.  The research is interdisciplinary in its nature, because it requires the knowledge of biologically important systems and of physical principles that govern biomolecular interactions.


Jerry Troutman, Ph.D.

Jerry Troutman, Ph.D.

704-687-4494
CBES Area of Expertise:

Biosynthesis of membrane anchored polysaccharides and methods for inhibiting protein intracellular trafficking as it relates to human disease.

CBES Area of Interest:

One of the core areas of my research is in the biosynthesis of complex polysaccharides by symbiotic intestinal microbes that are important for normal immunological functions of mammals.  Specifically, I am interested in the enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of these molecules and how they function together as a polysaccharide biosynthetic machine.  My second core area of research is on the functional blocking of key signaling network proteins by inhibiting their post-translational modification.  I am interested specifically in doing this with the protein isoprenylation system of mammals and the human parasite Trypanasoma cruzi.