Research Focus

Student working with microscope.

Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics (MRBSB) is dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology and molecular nature of disease.

To achieve this, researchers in this Strength conduct their investigations using genetic model systems, macromolecular structures, small molecules, computational models and pharmacodynamics approaches to understanding the complex nature of biological systems. Central to this understanding is the interactions of macromolecules. These interactions are each other and with natural and designed small molecule ligands. Also central is the ability of such molecules to regulate the interactions of proteins, DNA, RNA, and other cellular components and modulate biological processes. This is the unifying principal of MRBSB, which brings together several areas of excellence across the university, focusing on medically relevant research at the interface of biology and chemistry.

Because molecular interactions are driven by structural complementarity, knowledge of molecular structures enables design and synthesis of small molecules capable of modulating these processes, either in a directed or combinatorial way. Ultimately, some of the agents we design will become new drugs. Importantly, MRBSB faculty expertise allows questions to be addressed at all levels of a given biological system, from the molecular to the intact organism.  

The Strength derives its members from some of the strongest research programs at UB. Its central objective is to expand the research interactions among our 4 major disciplines so that emerging challenges in systems biology can be addressed, thereby creating a group whose strength exceeds that of its individual components. Importantly, studies in the existing programs inform directly on the molecular mechanisms of human disease. For example, there is a clear linkage between programs in DNA replication and repair, and development and differentiation, and molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis. Thus, the potential for this strength to impact favorably on translational research at UB is very high. Creation of a strong group of bioinformaticists will greatly facilitate progress in genomic medicine, leading to treatment programs tailored to the genetic makeup of the individual patient.

In addition to the aforementioned programs, other departments within the Schools of Medicine and Public Health and the College of Arts and Sciences augment MRBSB’s strength and diversity. These groups contribute expertise in bioengineering, protein-DNA interactions, gene expression, cell growth and development, response to infectious agents, bioinformatics, and other areas related to this Strength.