Krzysztof Kuczera

Krzysztof Kuczera

Professor
Primary office:
785-864-5060
Malott Hall, Room 5090

Academic Degrees

  • M.Sc., 1980, Warsaw University
  • Ph.D., 1985, Institute of Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Associate, 1986-1991, Harvard University

Areas of Specialization

Computer Simulations of Biomolecular Structure, Dynamics and Thermodynamics


Research Interests

Physical and theoretical chemistry: molecular dynamics simulations, statistical mechanics, quantum chemistry, biological molecules and solutions.

Studies of fundamental properties of complex biological and organic molecules have profound implications for many areas of science, as well as practical applications in curing disease, protecting the environment, improving industrial processes and designing new materials. Although experimental investigations remain the main source of information on large molecular systems, their theoretical and computational studies are gaining importance in recent years. This is due to great increases in computer power and development of efficient computational algorithms, and to the growing understanding that simulations provide unprecedented detail of information which can be fruitfully employed to uncover the microscopic mechanisms of observable, macroscopic properties of molecular systems.

Professor Kuczera's research focuses on the use of methods of modern computational chemistry to study structure, dynamics and thermodynamics of complex molecular systems. The methods used involve mainly molecular dynamics simulations and quantum chemistry. The overall goal is to relate the detailed microscopic information provided by the simulations to observable, macroscopic physical, chemical and biological properties. Besides providing a basic understanding of important classes of molecules, the simulation results provide predictions on how to manipulate the properties for practical purposes. The work involves using existing simulation programs, development of new methods and algorithms for molecular modeling, and collaborations with experimental groups on specific systems.

Recent projects include modeling of properties of the protein calmodulin in its normal and oxidatively damaged states, related to understanding the processes of aging and/or development of neurodegenerative diseases; simulations of the structure and dynamics of the membrane protein phospholamban, aimed at explaining the mechanism by which it regulates transmembrane calcium pumping; normal mode and molecular dynamics studies of domain motions in the enzyme S-Adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase, explaining microscopic details of its activity and guiding design of effective inhibitors; modeling the water-membrane transfer and helix-coil equilibria in model peptides, providing microscopic insights into the detailed effects of temperature and environment on peptide structure; simulations the structure and molecular motions in carbon-dioxide expanded organic liquids, helping explain how the physical properties of these novel environmentally beneficial media can be modulated by adjusting operating pressure.


Selected Publications

K.-H. Lee, K. Kuczera and M.M. Banaszak Holl. The severity of osteogenesis imperfecta: A comparison of relative free energy differences of collagen model peptides. Biopolymers, 95:182-193 (2011).

W. Hegefeld, S.-E. Chen, K. DeLeon, K. Kuczera and G.S. Jas. Helix formation in a pentapeptide: Experiment and force-field dependent dynamics. J. Phys. Chem. B, 114:12391-12402 (2010).

C. Hu, J. Fang, R. T. Borchardt, R. L. Schowen and K. Kuczera. Molecular dynamics simulations of domain motions of substrate-free S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine hydrolase. Proteins, 71: 131-143 (2008).

The antiviral drug ribavirin is a selective inhibitor of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine hydrolase from Trypanosoma cruzi. Bioorg. Med. Chem., 15: 7281-7287 (2007).


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Chemistry department receives more than $6 million in research grants annually
14 chemistry faculty members have NSF CAREER Awards
Longest-running chemistry Research Experience for Undergraduates in the nation