Structural Biology & Biophysics Program @ Duke University

About the SBB program

(also see The curriculum page...)
really all about the students... (see List of participating students...)

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SBB "elevator pitch"

The Duke University Structural Biology and Biophysics Training Program aims to recruit and train graduate students interested in pursuing a research career in molecular biophysics. We seek to imbue our students with a deep understanding of the biophysical principles that underlie biological phenomena, particularly at the molecular level. Our students and their unique biophysical perspective will play an increasingly important role in the search for solutions to a wide variety of human health problems.

SBB "story", the dense version...

The Duke University Training Program in Structural Biology and Biophysics is designed to provide both didactic and research training to students interested in pursuing a career in molecular biophysics or structural biology. The rationale for the Program is that the training in these fields is too broad to be housed in just one department and in fact our 31 faculty come from ten different departments in three different schools across campus. The Program currently consists of about 40 trainees. Training goals include: 1) didactic instruction in biomolecular structure and function, principles of biophysical methods and analysis, conformational analysis; 2) broad, interdisciplinary exposure to biophysical research in multiple research laboratory environments; 3) trainee-designed original dissertation research with frequent faculty feedback; 4) regular teaching and speaking opportunities. These goals are accomplished by providing program students with an intellectual home via weekly research seminars, faculty committee oversight and other informal scientific interactions. SBB Program trainees are not supported by the SBB but nevertheless are full participants and receive certificates in Structural Biology and Biophysics when they graduate. Typically in participating departments (see link to SBB faculty departments below) in the first year students conduct three multi-week laboratory rotations, then select a dissertation advisor. The trainees then go on to fulfill the degree requirements of the advisor's home department. If they continue to participate in the program, trainees receive a Certificate in Structural Biology at the time of graduation. A key training component is a weekly seminar series consisting of both student and faculty talks. The SBB program represents the intellectual and academic home of a growing and active community of structural biologists and biophysicists at Duke.

SBB make your own "story" way points...

Links to Faculty departments:

areas, fields, forests...

The Program centers on those research endeavors that use physical measurements to study biological macromolecules and their interactions, where the details of molecular structure are critical to understanding the biological problem in question. The focus is on resolving molecular structures at atomic resolution; the breadth extends to detecting molecular events and describing structural relationships in a chemically meaningful way. Research problems that fit the paradigm include:

  • 3-D structure determination by crystallography and NMR;
  • Many problems approached by various diffraction and microscopy techniques;
  • Molecular modeling and design studies which are tied to direct experimental tests;
  • Many spectroscopic studies where construction of a molecular model is vital to planning further experiments; and
  • Functional studies biochemistry, genetic mechanism, drug interaction, membrane system, etc. for which the details of molecular geometry are central to interpreting the experiments.

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High resolution crystal structures reveal a common but subtle mode of local backbone motion -- the "backrub".

SBB student Ian Davis, Richardson lab
Structure. 2006 Feb;14(2):265-74