Indiana University Bloomington Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington

Chemical Biology

Redefining the interface between chemistry, biology and human health

Chemical Biology is home to our interdisciplinary graduate training program in Quantitative and Chemical Biology (QCB) and attracts students interested in exploring problems at the interface of chemistry, biology, and human health.  A highly collaborative research environment that integrates synthesis, structural biology, biophysical chemistry, drug discovery and state-of-the-art spectroscopy and mass spectrometry provides students an unparalleled opportunity to design a unique course of study in preparation for careers in academic science and biotechnology. Our laboratory rotation program ensures that all students have the opportunity to spend time in different research groups prior to joining a group to better understand their research options available in the department, to build a sense of community between groups, and to enable students to identify potential areas of collaboration between groups.

Research Areas

Bio-Organic Chemistry

J.P. Gerdt Nicola L. B. Pohl Richard DiMarchi

We use the tools of organic chemistry, including organic synthesis and physical organic chemistry, to address problems in biology. Research topics include molecular probe design, enzyme inhibitor/drug design, glycobiology, automated organic synthesis of biomolecules, and natural product biosynthesis.

Quantitative Biology and Biophysics

David P. Giedroc Megan Thielges Yan Yu Charles Dann III

A quantitative understanding of biological systems provides fundamental insights into the natural world and improve our ability to diagnose and cure disease and engineer biological systems for novel applications. Research areas include enzymology, X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, IR spectroscopy, NMR spectroscopy, single molecule/particle methods, structural dynamics, and membrane biophysics.

Protein Engineering

Jared Lewis Trevor Douglas

Proteins are molecules of amazing complexity and are responsible for a dizzying array of functions in living systems. We focus on engineering and evolving these molecules for new applications in biocatalysis, biomimetic materials chemistry, supramolecular assembly, and pharmaceutical applications.

Metals in Biology

Jared Lewis David P. Giedroc Jeffrey Zaleski Trevor Douglas

Metals are essential for the function of a broad range of biomolecules. Understanding the roles of metals in biological systems, both natural and engineered, involves research at the interface of biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biophysics. Our studies in these areas include engineering artificial metalloenzymes for chemical catalysis, designing organometallic reagents for biomedical applications, understanding metallostasis in bacterial pathogens, and developing supramolecular nanoreactors.

Seminar Series

Chemical biology bridges a number of disciplines, and our seminar series is designed to expose students and faculty to a broad range of topics in the field. Click here for the latest seminar schedule.

Research Facilities

Our department maintains a wide range of facilities that uniquely enable cutting edge research in chemical biology. Importantly, staff scientists are available to assist and train students with all of the instruments housed in these facilities. This combination of advanced instrumentation and hands-on training provides students with the tools and expertise needed to push their projects in exciting new directions. Several departmental facilities and the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics provide particularly useful resources for chemical biology students.

Research Highlights

Advancing Biotechnology in Academic and Commercial Ventures

At Indiana University his research group has discovered a set of incretin peptides that demonstrate unprecedented activity in animal models of diabetes and obesity. The central elements to success has been the chemistry to install within single peptides...

Charactering RNA and Protein Macromolecules Using Techniques Including X-ray Crystallography to Understand Molecular Interactions

The Dann lab characterizes RNA and protein macromolecules using techniques including X-ray crystallography to understand molecular interactions at the level required to development therapeutics for human disease or in vivo biosensors for small molecules....

Studying the Biophysical Chemistry of Infectious Disease

We are a highly collaborative, problem-oriented group that uses the tools of structural and chemical biology and biophysical chemistry to understand biological regulation at the molecular level. Current projects are focused on 1) transition metal homeostasis...

Studying the Structure and Function of Bacterial Proteins

The Oakley lab studies the structure and function of bacterial proteins that are important for the appropriate distribution of chromosomes into daughter cells. Their work takes advantage of structural understanding of the E. coli condensin, MukB,...


Active Chemistry Research Groups

J.P. Gerdt Jared Lewis Charles Dann III Richard DiMarchi Trevor Douglas David P. Giedroc Liang-shi Li Nicola L. B. Pohl Megan Thielges Yan Yu

Other Faculty

Jonathan Trinidad Hongwei Wu Binbin Kou Milos Novotny Martha Oakley Peter Ortoleva Theodore Widlanski Bin Yang Adam Zlotnick