Molecular Biology

Molecular Biology Experts

Oliver Beckstein

Assistant Professor
Department of Physics
Arizona State University
United States of America


Oliver Beckstein, Dipl.-Phys., DPhil, leads a computational research group in the Center for Biological Physics and in the Department of Physics at ASU. He obtained his undergraduate degree (Diplom Physik) from the Department of Physics at the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany and his doctoral degree (DPhil — the Oxford version of the PhD) from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, UK. He held a Junior Research Fellowship at Merton College, Oxford and worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Tom Woolf at Johns Hopkins University and Mark Sansom in Oxford.

Research Interest

The focus of the research in the lab is in applying computational methods to understand the molecular mechanisms of biological processes, in particular transport across the cell membrane. Many proteins in the living cell can be understood as molecular machines that use a source of energy to produce mechanical or chemical work. The lab's primary interest is in those proteins located in the cell membrane that move nutrients, signalling molecules, or waste products into and out of the cell. We study their molecular mechanisms of action by detailed molecular dynamics simulations, which provide a "movie" of full atomic detail of a working protein.Current areas of interest focus on the mechanisms of secondary active transport; methods to accurately simulate macromolecular transitions that are crucial in understanding ligand binding, gating in ion channels, or the translocation of substrates through the cell membrane; and the role of water in confined geometries, for instance in ion channel gating mechanisms or ligand discrimination.


  • DomaƄski, J., Beckstein, O., & Iorga, B. I. (2017). Ligandbook: An online repository for small and drug-like molecule force field parameters. Bioinformatics, 33(11), 1747-1749. DOI: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btx037

  • Coincon, M., Uzdavinys, P., Nji, E., Dotson, D. L., Winkelmann, I., Abdul-Hussein, S., ... Drew, D. (2016). Crystal structures reveal the molecular basis of ion translocation in sodium/proton antiporters. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, 23(3), 248-255. DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3164

  • Huang, Y., Chen, W., Dotson, D. L., Beckstein, O., & Shen, J. (2016). Mechanism of pH-dependent activation of the sodium-proton antiporter NhaA. Nature Communications, 7, [12940]. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12940

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