Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Penn State Science
You are here: Home Faculty By Keyword Genetics


Main Content

Sarah Ades

  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Signal transduction and antibiotic induced stress responses in bacteria.

408 Althouse Laboratory

(814) 863-1088

Paul Babitzke

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Graduate Education Co-Director
  • Co-director, Center for RNA Molecular Biology

Regulation of gene expression by RNA structure and RNA-binding proteins

203 Althouse Laboratory

(814) 865-0002

Donald Bryant

  • Ernest C. Pollard Professor in Biotechnology and
  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Physiology, biochemistry, genetics, and genomics of photosynthetic bacteria

403C Althouse Laboratory

(814) 865-1992

Craig Cameron

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Eberly Chair in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

RNA polymerases and RNA-binding proteins in viral infection and mitochondrial disease

201 Althouse Laboratory

(814) 863-8705

Richard Frisque

  • Professor of Molecular Virology and
  • Associate Department Head for Equity and Diversity

Molecular approaches to the unique biology of JC virus

434 South Frear Laboratory

(814) 863-3523

David Gilmour

  • Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and
  • Graduate Education Co-Director

Transcriptional regulation of the hsp70 heat shock gene in Drosophila

465A North Frear Laboratory

(814) 863-8905

Wendy Hanna-Rose

  • Interim Department Head, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Molecular Genetics of Metabolism and Development in C. elegans

104D Life Sciences Building

(814) 865-7904

Teh-hui Kao

  • Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biochemical and molecular bases of self/non-self recognition during plant reproduction

333 South Frear Laboratory

(814) 863-1042

Kenneth Keiler

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Protein quality control and new antibiotics.

401 Althouse Laboratory

(814) 863-0787

Zhi-Chun Lai

  • Professor of Biology and
  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Growth control and cancer genetics

127 Life Sciences Building

(814) 863-0479

Bernhard Lüscher

  • Professor of Biology
  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Molecular and cellular mechanisms and neural circuit changes underlying neuropsychiatric disorders. Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying successful antidepressant drug treatment    Research Summary We are working to improve our understanding of the role and function of GABAergic transmission in health and disease. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and known to exert most of its function by activation of so-called GABA(A) receptors. These receptors are GABA-gated chloride channels and they serve as the targets of several classes of clinically and therapeutically important psychoactive drugs, most notably the benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Versed, etc). Based on knowledge derived from these drugs, GABA(A) receptors are known to modulate virtually every higher-order brain function (learning, memory, cognition, emotion, pain, motivation, muscle tension, etc). A first line of research uses mouse genetics to model and investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disorders. In particular, we are interested in the etiology of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), a leading cause of total disability affecting about 17 percent of the human population at least once in their lives. Recent clinical evidence points to functional impairment of certain GABA-releasing interneurons and reduced brain concentrations of GABA as a likely cause of MDD. Using targeted mutagenesis in mice, we have shown that modest deficits in GABAergic transmission are sufficient to reproduce behavioral, cognitive, cellular, endocrine, and pharmacological alterations expected of a mouse model of depression. These mice, therefore, provide strong evidence that GABA deficits are not just an epiphenomenon of MDD, but that they can, in fact, be causal for MDD (reviewed in Luscher et al 2011, Mol. Psychiatry). Using these mice we have shown that defects in GABergic transmission can be causal for defects in the function of glutamate, the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and that the defects in both GABA and glutamate can be reversed with the rapid-acting antidepressant, ketamine (Ren et al 2016)   As part of a second line of research, we are elucidating the mechanisms of antidepressant drug action. It is becoming increasingly clear that antidepressants act to ultimately increase and normalize GABAergic synaptic transmission even if they are designed to enhance the function of other neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine, glutamate, and their receptors. Therefore, we asked whether genetically enhancing the function of certain GABA-releasing interneurons would be sufficient to mimic the effects of above antidepressant drug treatments. We succeeded in showing that genetically increasing the excitability of GABA-producing interneurons known as somatostatin cells reproduced both biochemical and behavioral consequences of antidepressant drug treatment (Fuchs et al 2017).  Ongoing research seeks to better understand the molecular and cellular changes underlying MDD and antidepressant drug action, with the aim to design novel antidepressant drug treatments.          

209 Life Sciences Building

(814) 865-5549

Tim Miyashiro

  • Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Bacterial gene expression within natural host environments;  Host-microbe symbioses

410 South Frear Laboratory

(814) 865-1916

B. Tracy Nixon

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

1. Functional bases of signal transduction and gene regulation by AAA+ATPases in bacteria. 2. Degradation of lignocellulose by cellulases. 3. Synthesis of cellulose.

332 South Frear Laboratory

(814) 863-4904

Kathleen Postle

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Signal transduction and iron transport in bacteria as a target for novel antibiotic development

301 Althouse Laboratory

(814) 863-7568

Frank Pugh

  • Evan Pugh University Professor
  • Willaman Chair in Molecular Biology and
  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biochemistry and genomics and eukaryotic transcription regulation

456A North Frear Laboratory

(814) 863-8252

Joseph Reese

  • Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Chromatin structure and gene expression, DNA damage resistance pathways

463A North Frear Laboratory

(814) 865-1976

Melissa Rolls

  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences Graduate Program

Subcellular compartmentalization of neurons

118 Life Sciences Building

(814) 867-1395

Claire Thomas

  • Associate Professor of Biology
  • and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Roles of the cytoskeleton in Drosophila development: molecular and genetic approaches

617 Mueller Lab (mailbox 208 Mueller)

(814) 863-0716

Yanming Wang

  • Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Epigenetic histone modifications in cell differentiation and cancer

454 North Frear Laboratory

(814) 865-3775

Document Actions