U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 Contact Info

Tel: 301-496-6031
Email: eric@helix.nih.gov

 Select Experience

  • Ph.D.Princeton University1980
  • M.A.Princeton University1978
  • B.S. and B.A.University of Rochester 1976

 Related Links


    Eric Henry, Ph.D.

    Staff Scientist, Biophysical Chemistry SectionLaboratory of Chemical Physics
    • Biomedical Engineering/Biophysics/Physics
    • Computational Biology/Bioinformatics/Biostatistics/Mathematics
    Research Summary/In Plain Language

    Research Summary

    Research Goal

    The goal of this research is to understand the physics underlying the structure and dynamics of proteins and their relationship to biological function.

    Current Research

    We are interested in the nature and characteristic time scales of conformational changes in proteins. This broad question encompasses both the structural events involved in the initial folding of the polypeptide chain into its native structure in solution and the structural changes associated with protein function. In one study, we are analyzing the measured equilibrium and kinetic properties of the folding of various proteins. In this study, we use simple statistical-mechanical models in an attempt to elucidate basic physical principles underlying the folding process. We are also examining the dynamics of functionally relevant conformational changes in heme proteins. We use time-resolved optical spectroscopic probes to detect and measure the kinetics of these changes and molecular dynamics simulations to identify the actual atomic motions involved. Most recently, we have used time-resolved x-ray crystallography to visualize atomic motions directly.​

    Applying our Research

    A detailed understanding of the functionally relevant structural and dynamical properties of proteins is, among other things, a core component of the rapidly expanding field of rational drug design. In this field, knowledge of the molecular basis of pathology informs the de novo molecular design of targeted therapeutic agents.

    Need for Further Study

    My interests lie at the interface between physics, chemistry, and biology—both at the atomic level and at the systems level. This intersection is a major focus of current life-science research. Our work relies on a sophisticated technological and analytical infrastructure. As just one example, considerable research is still needed to refine both the precision and the accuracy of the various experimental and computational tools used to probe biomolecular processes with atomic resolution.