Onuchic wins $1.4M NSF grant for biomolecule study

José Onuchic

José Onuchic

José Onuchic, co-director of Rice’s Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, has won a five-year National Science Foundation grant for nearly $1.4 million to continue his lab’s study of relationships between the structures and functions of biomolecules.

The work will focus on proteins and nucleic acids (including DNA and RNA) to investigate how they distribute energy between their structures and functions. The project will also continue the lab’s exploration of the three-dimensional organization of the genome.

Onuchic and his Rice colleagues work at the frontier of biology and physics, building molecular-level computer simulations of biological systems to understand their forms and functions. They are pioneers in the development of protein-folding theory, by which researchers can predict the functional form of a protein from the intrinsic energy of its sequence as represented by structure-based models.

The lab has extended its work to understand signaling between cells – an important factor in cancer metastasis – and how DNA organizes itself before and during mitosis.

Onuchic is the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Chair of Physics and professor of physics and astronomy, of chemistry and of biochemistry and cell biology.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.