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The Graduate biochemistry and biophysics research is an important aspect of the graduate programs of the Chemistry Department of the University at Albany. Currently, there are four laboratories participating in this program and these laboratories constitute the Center for Biochemistry and Biophysics (CBB). The faculty members in this program are Professors Rabi Musah, Li Niu, Ramaswamy Sarma and Charles Scholes. The research areas include, but are not limited to, the dynamics of proteins and nucleic acids, the kinetic mechanism of protein function, structural characterization, protein-nucleic acid, protein-protein and protein-drug interactions, signal transduction pathways and drug design by chemical methods and combinatorial libraries. A short description of the individual research laboratories is as follows:

    Musah laboratory: Biophysical characterization of retroviral nucleocapsid proteins. Protein structure based drug design. Development of HIV-1 and HIV-2 nucleocapsid protein inhibitors as drugs. For details click here.

    Niu laboratory: Structure and function of cell surface receptor proteins involved in signal transduction; kinetic and molecular mechanism of drug-protein and protein-protein interaction, using rapid kinetic techniques, molecular biology and neurobiology, electrophysiology, fluorescence spectroscopy and biosensors. Drug design using combinatorial libraries. For details click here.

    Sarma laboratory: Conformation and dynamics of DNA and RNA oligo-nucleotides and their drug complexes, using a combination of multinuclear and multidimensional NMR spectroscopy, computer modeling and theoretical simulations. For details click here.

    Scholes laboratory: Biophysical research on the structure and function of proteins, primarily those that contain paramagnetic centers, using the techniques of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and electron nuclear double resonance (ENDOR) but with significant use of other spectroscopic and kinetic methods. For details click here.

Various state-of-the-art techniques and instrumentation are being used in these research efforts, including rapid kinetic measurements, modeling, spectroscopy, and biosensors. These research areas not only cover a wide range of biochemical and biophysical research, but also are at the interface of chemistry with several major disciplines such as biology and neuroscience.

The research programs in Biochemistry and Biophysics are a major strength of the overall graduate programs in the Department of Chemistry at SUNY-Albany. Together with other disciplines of chemical research, the Department graduate programs emphasize research in biological, bioorganic, biomaterials or bionanotechnological areas. Both Ph.D. and masters degrees are offered through graduate work in the department.

The research facilities in our department and here on campus are state-of-the-art. For instance, the Center for Biochemistry and Biophysics is equipped with EPR spectrometers with time resolved capability and laser photolysis instruments with the capability to do rapid kinetic measurements with a single cell. There are two other research centers that provide additional research instruments and facilities. One is the University at Albany Institute for Materials, and the other is the Comparative Functional Genomics Facility on the East Campus. These centers provide us with access to instruments such as an atomic force microscope, a nanofabrication and chip fabrication facility, a DNA sequencing laboratory, and a transgenic mouse facility. Our faculty members serve as either members of the research staff or routinely interact with these Centers. In the very near future, these Centers will purchase more state-of-the-art instruments, to include a BIACORE 3000 and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer. In addition, we have access to multi-dimensional NMR instrumentation (600 and 500 MHz) and a X-ray crystallography facility in the School of Public Health of SUNY-Albany. The NIH NMR facility at MIT with 750 MHz and 600 MHz NMR systems is being routinely used by Professor Sarma.

Earlier this spring, the construction of the $67 million Life Sciences laboratory building broke ground, and is due to be completed in 2004. Construction of this excellent research facility and fostering life science research are centerpieces of the university’s long-term growth plans.

Financial Aid and Fellowships
The Center for Biochemistry and Biophysics has recently instituted higher stipends, $20,000/yr, for graduate students participating in the programs of the Center for Biochemistry and Biophysics. Specifically, this means that the Center will provide a $7,000 supplement to the regular $13,000 Teaching or Research Assistant annual stipend. During the first summer a prospective graduate student is expected to participate in lab rotations through our biochemistry laboratories. Contingent on the

academic and research performance in the first year, a $20,000 research assistantship requiring no teaching will be provided. Graduate students in the Center additionally will enjoy a tuition wavier.

This nationally competitive stipend combined with very reasonable cost of living at Albany, as compared to a relatively high cost of living in major metropolitan areas such as New York City, Boston, and San Francisco will make it easy for graduate students to effectively complete their educational goals. The goal of the Center is to recruit high quality graduate students and researchers to participate the dynamic and multidisciplinary research programs at the Center of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

City and Community
Albany is a capital city of New York State. Albany is also a mid-size city which offers cultural diversity, ethnic cuisines, and affordable living, including a very reasonable and beautiful surroundings. For instance, the average monthly rent for a one-bed apartment within walking distance is about $350-450. Public transportation and the University at Albany campus buses provide convenient public transportation year-round.

Among various ethnic groups, Chinese students can find Chinese churches, Sunday schools where the children can learn their native language, and about half dozen Chinese grocery stores. There is a very active community from India, including a temple, exist in Albany. In addition, Albany is about two and half hours away from New York City and Boston, and three and half hours to Montreal, Canada by car.

Additional Information
For more information regarding the research programs in Biochemistry and Biophysics and the Center of Biochemistry and Biophysics at SUNY-Albany, please look at the homepages of the Chemistry Department at and of the Center at For more information regarding the university, please search the homepage of

Inquiries and requests for application forms and additional information can be addressed to:

Professor Li Niu
Chemistry Department and Center of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Chem 316, SUNY-Albany
1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12222
Phone: 518-442-4447; Fax: 518-442-3462; e-mail:

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Prof. Li Niu, CBB, Department of Chemistry, The University at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY USA 12222
phone: 518-442-4447; fax: 518-452-3462; email:
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