About the Institute

Kasha Building

The Institute of Molecular Biophysics (IMB) at Florida State University is located in the Kasha Laboratory Building, named for one of the founders of the Institute, Dr. Michael Kasha. IMB has a long history as a unique interdisciplinary research unit dedicated to the application of physical and chemical principles to the investigation of biological phenomena.

The Institute is the home for the Molecular Biophysics (MOB) Graduate Program, a unique doctoral program for students interested in cutting edge research where exploration into the molecular basis for biological phenomenon meets modern biophysical methodologies. MOB faculty members are found throughout the campus, with home departments in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biological Science, Mathematics, Biomedical Engineering, and Biomedical Science. The interdisciplinary of the MOB program, with its flexible curriculum and tailored research training, sets it aside from other programs housed in specific departments.

Research Focus

Biophysics research at Florida State University includes over 35 research groups. Nine groups, four core facilities and the Molecular Biophysics Graduate Program call the Institute’s Kasha Laboratory their home, while others are located in the associated Departments of Biological Science, Biomedical Sciences, Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Mathematics and Physics. Researchers work together to solve problems that have direct biomedical applications, such as the design of new therapeutic agents. Biological macromolecules are the focus of the Institute’s research – their form, function, interactions and mechanism of action. Fundamental questions drive our efforts: How is chemical energy converted into motion in the molecular motors of muscle? How are the chemical reactions in our bodies catalyzed by proteins and newly-discovered RNA enzymes?

Basic molecular biophysics and structural biology lies at the heart of these questions and is the focus of much of our efforts: investigations into the folding of proteins, assembly into larger structures, stability and dynamics, characterizing these properties in model systems. Challenging frontier areas include characterizations of the interactions between proteins and membranes, sugars or nucleic acids. Most of the research is fundamental, with insights gained leading to biomedical advances in the future. Some applications are closer at hand, such as improving inhibitors of proteases involved in cancer metastasis.

Progress on these challenges often comes hand-in-hand with development of technology to better probe these biomolecules. With close association to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, we utilize magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry to analyze structure and dynamics. Other in-house techniques include cryo-electron microscopy, x-ray crystallography, and computer simulation. FSU is home to one of the world’s most advanced robotic electron microscopes, the FEI Titan Krios. A University-wide shared High Performance Computing Facility with nearly 7,000 cores and advanced visualization capabilities supports computational research. FSU is also a member of NSLS-II at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY with access to third generation synchrotron beam lines at the world’s second most powerful x-ray source.

Computational approaches allow the extrapolation from available experimental data to the study of important molecular associations and motions that are transient or otherwise inaccessible to direct experimentation. Computation also provides the means to test our understanding of the basic theory of molecular interactions which allows us to predict the properties of biomolecules.