Chemical Biology is a quickly developing field that combines the application of chemical techniques, analysis and synthesis for studying biological systems and for creating new biomimetic materials. It concentrates on understanding the molecular picture of biological processes from the fundamental chemical point of view. In the Department of Chemistry at Rice University, we have a very strong research group specializing in advanced investigations in this important field that lies at the interface of Chemistry and Biology.
A large part of these research efforts involve studies in Supramolecular Chemistry, when relatively weak non-covalent forces are utilized to create nanoscale molecular assemblies. These investigations are inspired by fascinating biological processes that lead to the formation of tissues and creation of extracellular matrix structures. They give a unique path of creating new advanced materials with unusual properties and abilities that can find wide applications in biotechnology and medicine.
Another important aspect of the research in Chemical Biology at Rice is the development of new metal-protein and metal-peptide systems with properties that combine features of enzymes and traditional transition-metal catalysts. These systems have unique structures and functions, and they are promising candidates for multiple applications in medicine and industry.
Our research efforts also involve the investigation of methods of improving cancer immune therapies. New approaches to chemically modify cells in order to stimulate immune-activating pathways and to limit immune-inhibitory pathways are developed. These techniques open many exciting opportunities for application of chemical biology methods for fighting a variety of diseases in humans.