In the Pollack Lab, we study interesting and relevant biophysical problems involving proteins, RNA, and DNA. With eight national research centers and laboratories focused on applied physics–four of which are supported by the National Science Foundation–our graduate students have access to some of the most advanced research equipment and technology in the world.
Our research strives to reveal the fundamental physics that drives biological processes. To achieve this goal, we create and apply new tools to gain insight into outstanding biological problems.
Charge and biological molecules: why RNA folds and DNA condenses
Nucleic acids are among the most highly charged polymers found in nature, yet their biological roles require them to fold or condense into tightly packaged structures. We are studying the role of positively charged ions on these dramatic conformational changes.
RNA carry out many important and varied tasks related to life. They act as messengers, sensing elements and can even catalyze biological reactions. These roles are intimately linked to the plethora of 3D structures RNA can adopt. Our work strives to gain understanding of how RNA folds and subsequently performs its biological activity.