Biosciences Graduate Program

Amnon Kohen, BS, DSc


Professor of Chemistry

Contact Information

Office: E274 CB
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-234

Web: More About Dr. Kohen - Related Websites and Resources


BS, Chemistry, Hebrew University Jerusalem
DSc, Chemistry, Technion Israel Institute Technology

Post Doctorate, Chemistry, UNIV OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

We are studying chemical catalysis with biological systems (enzymes), using tools of organic and physical chemistry. Chemical catalysis in biological systems is highly stereo- and regio-specific and selective. Most enzymes catalyze reactions at ambient temperature and pressure. These qualities are of great interest when developing new catalysts for organic reactions. Studying enzyme mechanism on the molecular level leads to an in-depth understanding of how evolution uses the principles of chemistry and physics to direct, enhance and control biological processes. Additionally, understanding how enzymes work can lead to development of new drugs of medical importance, new paths in organic synthesis, and new methodologies in biotechnology. Two main directions will be pursued: The role of protein dynamics and quantum mechanical effects in enzyme catalyzed hydrogen transfer. Enzymes involved in DNA biosynthesis are being studied (TS, DHFR and SHMT). These are small proteins that catalyze hydrogen transfer by many orders of magnitude and are of great medical interest. Many anti-cancer and antibiotic drugs target these enzymes The mechanism of dinitrogen reduction by nitrogenases In both projects, an interdisciplinary approach is proposed where the techniques of synthetic organic chemistry and molecular biology will be used to manipulate substrates and enzymes, respectively. Students in the group will gain knowledge and hands-on experience in organic synthesis, molecular biology and protein purification, structural biology and drug design, enzyme assays and kinetics, isotope effect measurements, and various theoretical aspects of catalysis.

Date Last Modified: 06/06/2016 - 13:17:48