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The unifying theme of CRBS is the pursuit of understanding the relationship between the structure and biophysical properties of macromolecules and their biological functions.

theme 1: Determining the molecular basis of disease and treatments


Structural biology and biophysics seek to develop a comprehensive understanding of the conformations adopted by biological molecules. A single change in a structure can mean the difference between health and illness. Thus, the objectives of Theme 1 are to determine the structural basis of protein processing (1a) and of the protein and biomolecular networks that determine cell structure (1b), with an emphasis on diseases and the elaboration of new approaches and paradigms for treatment. With the aging population of Quebec, diseases like Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and osteopathies will become more prevalent, and require active research to address.

Theme 1a researchers: Gehring, Lukacs, Multhaup, Münter, Shrier, Thomas, Trempe, Tsantrizos

Theme 1b researchers: Bechstedt, Brouhard, Bui, Ehrlicher, Hayer, Hendricks, McKee, Reznikov, Vogel

theme 2: Leveraging biophysical, chemical and synthetic biology for health

Biophysics and structural biology are extremely useful in guiding the development of novel drugs and the mechanisms of drug delivery. Theme 2 research seeks to uncover the molecular detail required to understand and combat infectious diseases, to design better drugs and vaccines, to circumvent resistance, and to exploit enzymes for therapeutic purposes. The impending antibiotic crisis and the pandemic-capable viruses which could jump to humans means research in 2a (bacterial infection) and 2b (viral and fungal infection) is timely and important

Theme 2a researchers: Auclair, Berghuis, Thibodeaux, Schmeing, Castagner, Moitessier, Zeytuni, Guo, Harrington, Dastmalchi

Theme 2b researchers: Cosa, Salavati, Strauss, Wagner, Wiseman, Xia


theme 3: nucleic acid biomedical discovery and application

The nucleic acid biomolecules – RNA and DNA – are now long recognized as not only storers of genetic information, but also key players of a vast number of health and disease related processes, and crucial tools in biomedical discovery. The development of RNA-guided DNA-editing CRISPR technology and COVID-19 mRNA vaccines highlights the importance of fundamental research in nucleic acids. CRBS researchers in Theme 3 pioneer breakthroughs in many aspects of nucleic acid structure, function, metabolism and applications in personalized medicine and drug delivery. In theme 3a CRBS researchers make discoveries in the RNA-centric process of protein synthesis and leverage these for novel applications, and in theme 3b, CBRS discoveries in RNA and DNA and are made and exploitated for next-generation applications.

Theme 3a researchers: Ortega, Vera Ugalde, Nagar, Sonenberg

Theme 3b researchers: Guarné, Reyes-Lamothe, Damha, Mittermaier, Sleiman, Luedtke, McKeague, Waldispühl, Weber

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