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Research in the Raines Laboratory

Graphic of Rains Lab Research ImagesThe amino-acid sequence of a protein encodes its three-dimensional structure, and this structure manifests itself in biological function. Using techniques that range from synthetic chemistry to cell biology, the Raines group is illuminating in atomic detail both the chemical basis and the biological purpose for protein structure and protein function. The efforts of the Raines group are leading to insights into the relationship between amino-acid sequence and protein function (or dysfunction), as well as to the creation of novel proteins and other molecules with desirable properties. For example, they have discovered an RNA-cleaving enzyme that is in a multi-site human clinical trial as an anti-cancer agent, revealed that an unappreciated force—the n-to-pi* interaction—stabilizes all proteins, created hyperstable and human-scale synthetic collagens, and developed processes to synthesize proteins and convert crude biomass into useful fuels and chemicals (News). Their efforts have been supported by the University of Wisconsin - Madison and by generous grants from these organizations:

Abbott Laboratories, Inc.Petroleum Research Fund
American Cancer SocietyPfizer, Inc.
American Chemical SocietyPhRMA
American Heart AssociationProcter & Gamble Co.
Arnold and Mabel Beckman FoundationPromega Corp.
Arthritis FoundationSearle Scholars Program
Autism SpeaksShaw Scientists Program
Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationSigma–Aldrich Co.
Damon Runyon Cancer Research FoundationU.S. Department of Defense
Eastman Chemical Co.U.S. Department of Energy
Guggenheim FoundationU.S. Department of Homeland Security
Howard Hughes Medical InstituteU.S. National Institutes of Health
Johnson & Johnson, Inc.U.S. National Science Foundation
Kimberly–Clark Corp. 

The research projects in the Raines laboratory are designed to reveal how biological phenomena can be explained with the principles of chemistry. The hypotheses are far-reaching, and testing them requires the use of techniques and ideas from diverse disciplines. The ensuing broad/deep training is appropriate for scientists who want to perform innovative and meaningful research at the widening chemistry - biology interface.

Alumni from the Raines laboratory have exciting careers as faculty members at distinguished research universities, medical schools, and colleges; and as research scientists at innovative start-up companies, leading corporations, and government laboratories.