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Structural and Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics

Houston, Texas

A BCM research lab.
Structural and Computational Biology & Molecular Biophysics
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Jose Onuchic, Ph.D.

Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Chair of Physics

Co-Director, Center for Theoretical Biological Physics

Professor, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Cell Biology

SCBMB Executive Committee Member

Rice University


B.S. Electrical Engineering, Universidade de Sao Paulo (1980)
B.S. Physics, Universidade de Sao Paulo (1981)
M.S. Applied Physics, Universidade de Sao Paulo (1982)
Ph.D. Chemistry, California Institute of Technology (1987)

Research Interests:

Our lab focuses on theoretical work at the interface of physics and biology Special emphasis is given to protein folding and function, electron transfer in proteins, and stochasity and noise in gene networks.

José Onuchic has led the biological physics community as it attempts to devise an integrated picture of a variety of model biochemical and biological systems. His research has expanded across the scales of molecular-level interactions to cellular systems to organized multi-cellular structures. After moving to Houston he is expanding this view towards medical applications focusing on cancer. In protein folding, he has introduced the conceptof protein folding funnels as a mechanism for the folding of proteins. Convergent kinetic pathways, or folding funnels, guide folding to a unique, stable, native conformation. Energy landscape theory and the funnel concept provide the theoretical framework needed to pose and to address the questions of protein folding and function mechanisms. He also works on the theory of chemical reactions in condensed matter with emphasis on biological electron transfer reactions. He is now broadening his interests to stochastic effects in genetic networks.

Selected Publications:

  • Sulkowska JI, Noel JK, Ramírez-Sarmiento CA, Rawdon EJ, Millett KC and Onuchic JN. Knotting pathways in proteins. Biochem Soc Trans, 41(2):523-7 (2013). PubMed
  • Onuchic JN, Jennings PA and Ben-Jacob E. Learning from cancer how to defeat bacteria. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 110(9):3212-3 (2013). PubMed
  • Jana B, Hyeon C and Onuchic JN. The origin of minus-end directionally and mechanochemistry of Ncd motors. PLoS Comput Biol, 8(11):e1002783 (2012). PubMed
  • Lammert H, Noel JK and Onuchic JN. The dominant folding route minimizes backbone distortion in SH3. PLoS Comput Biol, 8(11):e1002776 (2012). PubMed
  • Whitford PC, Sanbonmatsu KY and Onuchic JN. Biomolecular dynamics: order-disorder transitions and energy landscapes. Rep Prog Phys, 75(7):076601 (2012): PubMed
  • Capraro DT, Gosavi S, Roy M, Onuchic JN and Jennings PA. Folding circular permutants of IL-1ß: route selection driven by functional frustration. PLoS One, 7(6):e38512 (2012). PubMed
  • Hyes RL, Noel JK, Mohanty U, Whitford PC, Hennelly SP, Onuchic JN and Sanbonmatsu KY. Magnesium fluctuations modulate RNA dynamics in the SAM-I riboswitch. J Am Chem Soc, 134(29):12043-53 (2012). PubMed

For more publications, see listing on PubMed

Contact Information:

Department: Chemistry
Address: 239 Brockman Hall
6100 Main Street, MS 61
Houston, TX 77055
Phone: 713-348-4197

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