Networks & Interactions

Biological systems consist of vast numbers of components connected by physical interactions between components and interactions with the environment. At Notre Dame, researchers study both individual components and their interactions in order to understand in a predictive way the fundamental principles that govern biological processes. Examples include: What interactions are important to ensure proper protein folding and enzyme function? What interactions cause some proteins to be prone to misfolding, leading to diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s, and juvenile cataracts? How does the microtubule cytoskeleton, a dynamic network of protein fibers that directs chromosome segregation during mitosis, assemble and disassemble as needed? How do proteins recognize foreign and cancerous cells, and how does this recognition lead to cellular communication such as T cell function in the immune system? How do interactions between host cells and metastasizing cancer cells determine tumor growth? How does the lipid composition of specific membranes lead to recruitment of specific proteins, facilitating viral infection? How does development work on a molecular level? Analyzing these interactions at all levels, from individual molecules to larger networks, is improving our understanding of how biological systems are organized and controlled, including our ability to predict the effects of genetic mutations.

Affiliated Researchers

  • Patricia Champion
    Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

  • Patricia Clark
    Director, Biophysics Graduate Program; Rev. John Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry; Concurrent Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

  • Shaun Lee
    Monahan Family Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

  • Jeffrey Peng
    Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry; Concurrent Associate Professor of Physics

  • Sharon Stack
    Kleiderer-Pezold Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry; Director, Harper Cancer Research Institute

  • Zoltan Toroczkai
    Professor of Physics; Concurrent Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

  • Dervis Can Vural
    Assistant Professor of Physics

  • Katharine White
    Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry