Department of Biochemistry University of Oxford Department of Biochemistry
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3QU

Tel: +44 (0)1865 613200
Fax: +44 (0)1865 613201
Collage of Drosophila third instar larva optic lobe
Lu Yang, Davis lab
First year Biochemistry students at a practical class
Image showing the global movement of lipids in a model planar membrane
Matthieu Chavent, Sansom lab
Anaphase bridges in fission yeast cells
Whitby lab
Lactose permease represented using bending cylinders in Bendix software
Caroline Dahl, Sansom lab
Epithelial cells in C. elegans showing a seam cell that failed to undergo cytokinesis
Serena Ding, Woollard lab
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Dr Sylvia McLain to give Royal Institution Discourse
Doctor Sylvia McLain (Credit: The Royal Institution) Dr Sylvia McLain from the Biochemistry Department, will give the Royal Institution Discourse this Friday, 24th February, on 'Water and proteins: Insights into the physics of life' from 7.20pm to 8.45pm Published: 23 February 2017
Prof. Alison Woollard appointed as Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research
Professor Alison Woollard (Credit: Paul Wilkinson) Professor Alison Woollard, Department of Biochemistry and Fellow of Hertford College, has been appointed as the University of Oxford's next Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research Published: 13 February 2017
Predicting drug selectivity using computers
Alt Text One of the most important requirements for the development of a safe drug is selectivity - in other words, the ability to interact preferentially with the desired biological target. If a drug interacts significantly with other targets in the body, this can lead to undesirable side effects Published: 18 January 2017
Assembling a protein transporter
TatBC How can you obtain high resolution structural information about protein complexes when you cannot determine the structure directly by techniques such as X-ray crystallography? Published: 14 December 2016

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Francis Barr, Head of Department

The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford is a centre for world class research and teaching of all aspects of Biochemistry by staff from many different backgrounds and nationalities. Our research addresses a wide range of questions relating to the fundamental basis of all cellular life from man to microbes. This work explains the structures and functions of proteins and nucleic acids, and in doing so addresses the mechanisms of many human diseases. Using this knowledge, other researchers aim to create new vaccines, antiviral and antibacterial therapies to protect and treat humans across the world.

You can read more about the details of our current work and other aspects of the department, including undergraduate teaching and public outreach activities, on these web pages.

Professor Francis Barr, Head of Department

News Highlight

Molecular dynamics simulations aid functional annotation of ion channel structures

Figure 1. The pore lining structure of the serotonin receptor

Figure 1. The pore lining structure of the serotonin receptor (Click to Enlarge)

The work was carried out in Prof Mark Sansom's laboratory in collaboration with Prof Stephen Tucker at the Department of Physics in Oxford, and has been published in Structure [1].

Ion channels act as pores that allow the movement of ions across the cell membrane. They play key roles in fundamental physiological processes and are especially important in electrically excitable cells within the nervous system. Ion channels are highly dynamic and can undergo conformational transitions as they move between a closed state that is impermeable to ions and an open state that allows the flow of ions. Although recent advances in structural biology are yielding an increasing array of high resolution structures, a major limitation is that the functional state of a channel (i.e., open versus closed) is often unclear. Better tools are needed to annotate the functional state of a channel.

Several ion channels exhibit a property referred to as 'hydrophobic gating'. When water and ions are present within narrow hydrophobic pores they exhibit unusual behaviour. Unfavourable interactions between water and the lining of a hydrophobic pore, promotes a 'dewetted' state that is devoid of water. Expulsion of water presents an energetic barrier to ion permeation. The ability of a pore to become hydrated therefore represents a reliable indicator of permeability.

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Postgraduate Courses

Open for applications
for admission in October 2017

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Keep in touch with the Department


OUBS Dr Ivan Ahel, 'ADP-ribosylation signalling in regulation of genome stability' Monday 27th Feb, 13:00 Main seminar room, New Biochemistry Building
Louise Johnson Memorial Lecture Professor Nieng Yan, 'A molecular movie of the excitation and contraction coupling of skeletal muscles' Tuesday 28th Feb, 16:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBCB Seminar Series Dr Laura Domicevica, 'P-glycoprotein interactions with drugs and lipids' Thursday 2nd Mar, 14:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBMB Seminar Series David Huggins, 'Structure and Dynamics of Water In Biomolecular Systems' Friday 3rd Mar, 11:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building

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Athena Swan Silver Award