Clemson University

Colloquium: Faruck Morcos, University of Texas, Dallas

Biological physics and molecular coevolution:

from structure to design and back to evolution


Faruck Morcos

University of Texas at Dallas



Abstract: Over the last several years, the use of coevolutionary information, i.e. the knowledge of amino acid or nucleotide interactions maintained through evolution in a given protein/RNA family, has provided a framework to study structural biology in a predictive manner. Amino acid couplings, obtained from inference algorithms inspired by statistical physics like Direct Coupling Analysis, have been fundamental to predict non-local interactions in protein three-dimensional structure, being now the core of state-of-the-art protein structure prediction algorithms. Coevolutionary information has had an impact in understanding conformational plasticity, complex prediction in molecular interactions and specificity in signal transduction. In this seminar I will discuss new directions in the study of global models of sequence evolution, primarily focused on the integration of theory and experiment. I will present recent advances in my lab integrating the statistical mechanics of sequences with high throughput experimental data to study Protein-RNA interactions, applications in engineering allosteric transcriptional repressors and synthetic biology and a description of our recently developed model of sequence evolution that unifies several features of independent models by integrating epistatic contributions in the formulation of evolutionary landscapes. These studies showcase the spectrum of novel applications in the field of molecular coevolution and its potential to study mutational landscapes of biomolecules.  


Bio: Dr. Faruck Morcos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, the Department of Bioengineering  and member of the Center for Systems Biology at the University of Texas at Dallas.  He joined UTD in the Fall of 2015 after completing his postdoctoral training at the University of California San Diego and Rice University. He is the recipient of multiple awards including the Research Excellence Award given by the CSE Department at the University of Notre Dame for his PhD thesis and the Werner von Siemens Excellence Award for graduate studies at the Technical University of Munich.  Dr. Morcos’ lab focuses on solving problems at the interface between biology, computation, mathematics and biological physics. He recently received the NSF CAREER Award and the NIH MIRA Award to develop methods to extract biological information from sequence and genomic data and create models of molecular evolution, protein structure and function as well as bimolecular interactions.

Dial-In Information
Meeting ID: 969 5278 4961
Password: 521562

Thursday, November 5 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Lectures / Seminars / Speakers


College of Science, Physics and Astronomy

Target Audience

Students, Faculty, Undergraduate, Graduate, Postdocs

Contact Name:

Amanda Ellenburg

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