skip to content »

Structural and Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics

Houston, Texas

A BCM research lab.
Structural and Computational Biology & Molecular Biophysics
not shown on screen

Xiaolian Gao, Ph.D.

Xiaolin Gao, Ph.D.Professor, Biology and Biochemistry, Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering

University of Houston


B.S., Beijing Institute of Chemical Technology (1982)
Ph.D., Rutgers University (1986)
Postdoc, Columbia University

Research Interests:

Research in this laboratory is at the interfaces of chemistry and biological sciences and our work focuses on two areas:

  • Biological NMR of nucleic acids, proteins, and their complexes with ligand molecules
  • Microarray BIOCHIP technologies in synthesis and applications

A broad range of biophysical, computational, chemical and biochemical methods are employed as effective tools for characterization of important biological molecules. Our long term goals are to understand the relationships of function and structure of complex genomes of human and other species.

As chemists, we prefer to approach biological problems at an atomic resolution level, and we are interested in characterizing these systems in great detail. For instance, we use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and computational methods to define three dimensional structures of drug-DNA complexes. This information helps us to understand the action of drug molecules and to design more effective medicinal molecules. Several projects in our laboratory are originated from our interests in the ligand (a general name for drug and potential drug molecules) and nucleic acid complexes. Additionally, we synthesize nucleic acid oligomers and their analogs to facilitate our studies.

We see significantly increased penetration of chemistry into biological sciences in next few years. We are interested in developing and applying new methods to unveil the secrete of genomes (DNA complexes), which are encoded in their structures and functions. Genomes are extremely complex molecular machines, which contain essential information governing our lives. We have developed a novel solution photochemistry for making DNA CHIPs that is used to read DNA sequences, probe DNA structures, and discover base variations/mutations. Thousands of these experiments are performed in parallel in a miniaturized setting. This is a new format of chemistry, involving high throughput combinatorial synthesis, biological sample processing, and bioinformatic computing. We also pursue research projects on general synthesis and applications of BIOCHIPs containing RNA, peptide, and organic molecules.

Selected Publications:

  • Zhao Q, Huang HC, Nagaswamy U, Xia Y, Gao X and Fox GE. UNAC tetraloops: to what extent do they mimic GNRA tetraloops? Biopolymers, 97(8):617-28 (2012). PubMed
  • Dasgupta I, Gao X and Fox GE. Structural properties of DNA oligomers containing (GACX) (n) and (GAXC) (n) tandem repeats. Biopolymers, 97(3):155-64 (2012). PubMed
  • Xia Y, Zhu Q, Jun KY, Wang J and Gao X. Clean STD-NMR spectrum for improved detection of ligand-protein interactions at low concentration of protein. Magn Reson Chem, 48(12):918-24 (2010). PubMed
  • Xia Y, Yamaoka Y, Zhu Q, Matha I and Gao X. A comprehensive sequence and disease correlation analyses for the C-terminal region of CagA protein of Helicobacter pylori. PLoS One, 4(11):e7736 (2009). PubMed
  • Feng J, Wong KY, Lynch GC, Gao X and Pettitt BM. Salt effects on surface-tethered peptides in solution. J Phys Chem, 113(28):9472-8 (2009). PubMed

For more publications, see listing in PubMed.

Contact Information:

Department: Departments of Chemistry and Biology and Biochemistry
Address: Science & Research Bldg. 1, Rm 43
University of Houston
4800 Calhoun
Houston, TX 77204-5641
Phone: 713-743-2805
Fax: 713-743-2709
Additional Links: Gao Research Group,

E-mail this page to a friend