ucsf logo

Research areas

The UCSF Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate Program offers five areas of research emphasis:

  1. Biological chemistry and synthetic biology
  2. Chemical biology and molecular design
  3. Computational chemistry and biology
  4. Macromolecular structure function and dynamics
  5. Nanomolecular design

1. Biological chemistry and synthetic biology

Biological chemistry uses the techniques of biology, such as molecular biology, to understand how biological systems carry out chemical processes and how biological systems can be manipulated. Biological chemistry is crucial for identifying drug targets and understanding biochemical mechanisms and pathways.

Program faculty members working in this area include:

2. Chemical biology and molecular design

Chemical biology uses the techniques of chemistry to analyze biological systems and uses chemical compounds, often synthetic chemicals, to manipulate biological systems. Chemical biology is an important field for conducting drug discovery and drug design.

The majority of the program faculty works in this area and includes:

3. Computational chemistry/biology

Computational questions in this area address predicting protein structure and folding, visualization of biomolecules and systems, prediction and analysis of interactions of biological molecules with drugs, small molecules and other biological macromolecules, predicting enzyme function from structure, and predicting protein network interactions. Huge improvements in computing hardware technology have enabled rapid advances in computational biology.

Program faculty members working in this area include:

4. Macromolecular structure function and dynamics

Structure determination of biologically relevant macromolecules is a very strong focus of expertise at UCSF. Techniques include X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), electron microscopy, and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy.

Program faculty members working in this area include:

5. Nanomolecular design

Nanomolecular design is a relatively new and growing research area that involves the engineering of biomolecules and nanoscale structures such as proteins, liposomes, and biomimetic architectures for functional nanomaterials.

Program faculty members active in this area include:

Next topic: Curriculum