The Molecular Genetics, and Biochemistry (MGB) research group forms the corner-stone of the departmental research effort. Historically, the interests of the group are firmly grounded in molecular and genetic aspects of microbial physiology. Over the last few years, however, these interests have expanded and diversified; addressing research concerns as disparate as the genetic basis of neural development in lower eukaryotes, programmed cell death in human tissue culture cells, and an understanding of positive strand RNA viral replication. This expansion has recently culminated in the acquisition of an Endowed chair in Biotechnology (Professor Julia Hilliard), whose research provides some new and intriguing insights into human and nonhuman primate alpha herpes viruses.
A defining theme to the research undertaken within the group would be an understanding of regulatory mechanisms. This theme covers a variety of research endeavors within the group. At the protein level it encompasses the mechanisms of protein and drug transport across bacterial membranes, along with protein:protein interactions that trigger cell division. At the nucleic acid level the regulatory theme embraces a wide variety of schemes; ranging from the genetic response of certain microbes toward specific changes in their environment to the diverse complexities that control viral infection (including those mechanisms which underlie replication of certain viruses, and directs their ultimate evolution).
The research that has been undertaken within the MGPI group (together with a major collaborative effort with members of the Chemistry department) has played a significant role in the development of the Center for Biotechnology and Drug Design and the state-of-the-art DNA and Protein Core Facility. Both these resources (through grants from the Georgia Research Alliance and the State of Georgia) have provided the technical means and where-with-all to support molecular based research within the two departments.