2018 research activities
The functions of biological systems emerge from the structures of macromolecules, their conformational dynamics, and their higher order assembly. Determination of biomolecular structures and an understanding of their conformational changes and assembly properties provide great insights into biological mechanisms. Much of the research in structural biology at the Weizmann Institute is carried out in the Faculty of Chemistry, using a diverse set of cutting-edge research tools and methods. Investigators in the Structural Biology Department rely on the primary techniques for experimental structure determination, namely X-ray crystallography, NMR, and electron microscopy, but they also employ a variety of other specialized and emerging spectroscopic methods combined with creative molecular engineering to explore macromolecular structures, energetics, and dynamics. Experimental strategies are complemented by computational and theoretical approaches. Among the specific subjects of research in the department are ribosomes, protein chaperones, viruses, extracellular matrices, and biominerals. Processes being investigated include protein aggregation in cells, conformational dynamics of enzymes, formation of skeletal tissues, cell penetration by viruses, DNA recognition by proteins, and protein folding. Efforts are also directed towards the design of potential drugs. The wide variety of research activities in the department are based on a shared appreciation for the physical and chemical foundations of biological activities.