Applied Bioscience and Biotechnology

Applied Bioscience and Biotechnology

Participating Faculty: Yin Yeh, Atul Parikh

The field of applied biosciences is an emerging discipline at the intersection of molecular and cellular biology, the physical sciences, and materials engineering. Equipped with the tools of modern molecular biology, powerful characterizations, theory, and computation, scientists in this area seek to develop a physical understanding of the exquisite and complex behaviors of biological systems.

The particular focus of the applied biosciences uncovers the biological principles of self-organization, recognition, regulation, replication, communication, and cooperatively that characterize living systems, allowing scientists to extend these principles in the synthesis of modern materials. This field has advanced to become a promising area of applied science, blurring the border between traditional scientific disciplines and offers new routes for the design of materials where organization precedes function. The technological promise of applied bioscience includes the health applications of biomedical and biotechnology, but also encompasses a host of novel nanotech-nologies.

Research in the applied biosciences and biotechnology within the Department of Applied Science emphasizes two distinct but related themes: developing detailed descriptions of biological processes and phenomena in terms of fundamental interactions at all relevant length scales, and the design of new materials and devices inspired by biology. The following examples illustrate some of the current research led by the department.

Understanding and mimicking biomineralization: a biosynthetic tool that is used by living systems to grow inorganic materials using bio-organic templates. Studies include determining mechanisms by which ice growth is modified by antifreeze proteins and growth of novel biogenic silica and calcite is controlled by glycolipids and proteins.

Understanding and mimicking membrane processes: molecular recognition, signal transduction, and molecular pathogenesis. Here we learn to regulate protein-membrane and protein-receptor interactions that cause cells to respond to specific external stimuli.

Understanding molecular mechanisms in a cell: determining protein-DNA interactions to control genetic replication, to maintain chromosomal stability, and to repair DNA damages. Our recent activities include the mechanisms of DNA damage search and controlled sequence unwinding of double-stranded DNA.

Designing new probes in medical diagnostic, treatment, and therapy: developing tunable, monoenergetic x-rays for the detection and treatment of cancer in connection with advanced targeting agents.

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