Mr. Samuel Johnson successfully passed his oral defense on March 16th, and completed his Ph.D. degree. The title of his dissertation project is, “Specificity and stoichiometry of the G-quadruplex binding protein BG4”. His supervisor Dr Patricia Opresko introduced that Sam struggled at times during his research, changed the directions, solved the problems, and finally accomplished his project. The presentation was done in a hybrid manner, both in-person and virtually. Over 40 people attended his presentation and enjoyed his presentation. 

Congratulations, Sam!



It is Graduate program recruitment season!!

MBSB will have a booth at the virtual Graduate Fair, hosted by the Biophysics Society.

Date: Nov 14 and 15, 2022

URL: https://www.biophysics.org/education-careers/education-career-events/virtual-graduate-fair

This event is free for students!   See you there!

We are seeking prospective students who are highly motivated to pursue biophysical and structural biology studies. We would appreciate if you could forward the information of our program and the virtual fair to students who have a strong interest in biophysics graduate programs.







Dr. Wesley Brown in the MD/PhD program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine successfully passed his oral defense on July 20th and completed his Ph.D. degree. The title of his dissertation project is, “Conditional Control of Protein Function in Aquatic Embryos” under the supervision of Prof. Alexander Deiters. His work details the generation of conditional control over the activity of proteins and microRNA knockdown in zebrafish and Xenopus embryos. His talk focused on the development of optical control of a RASopathy disease-associated mutant of NRAS and optical control of microRNA-430 knockdown, both used to study their respective roles in zebrafish heart development. Wes will finish up his medical training over the next two years before applying for residency programs in internal medicine.

Congratulations, Wes!






Dr. Erich Hellemann Holguín in the MBSB program successfully passed his oral defense on September 21st. The title of his dissertation project is “Computer-aided drug design: developing and applying simulation-based tools to identify small-molecule ligands that inhibit proteins”. Erich accomplished this research under the supervision of Prof. Jacob D. Durrant in the Department of Biological Science in University of Pittsburgh. His work details how computers aid in the process of discovering new candidate drugs. Erich developed a tool that leverages Weighted Ensemble simulations to enhance protein pocket conformational sampling. Erich will move to New Mexico State University as the Director of the Core Structure Determination Facility in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department.  BTW, Remote defense presentation is more like a reunion. Some of former MBSB students attended Erich’s talk and asked questions.

Congratulations, Erich!









Dr. Stephen White successfully passed his oral defense on June 13th, and completed his Ph.D. degree. The title of his dissertation project is, “The H. polygyrus TGF-β mimic TGM6: A Competitive Inhibitor of TGF-β Signaling” under supervision of Prof. Andrew Hinck. This work provides one of first known examples of a parasite-expressed protein that mimics the structure of a cytokine to function as an inhibitor of a mammalian signaling pathway. In August, Stephen will be joining the Formulation and Drug Development group at Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals in Bothell, WA.

Congratulations, Stephen!