Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the College
Engin Özkan trained as a biochemist and biophysicist in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Johann Deisenhofer, where he studied the ubiquitination pathway using structural biology, biochemistry and computational methods. Later, he studied the extracellular interactome, the collection of protein interactions that happen outside the cell. He developed strategies that can effectively reveal the extracellular interactome and demonstrated that protein interaction networks can directly lead toward deciphering novel biology. Through structural studies of extracellular protein complexes, he has also shown that biophysical properties of protein-protein complexes govern physiologically relevant functions for multicellular organisms, ranging from the formation of synapses by neurons to the construction of a blood filtration barrier in the kidney.
His current research relates to the development and functioning of the nervous system under the direction of cell-surface and secreted proteins, using high-throughput interaction discovery studies and structural biology. This work will have the potential to explain neurological and mental disorders due to miswiring of neurons and establish a mechanistic basis for how the nervous system is wired.
Özkan received his PhD in molecular biophysics from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and completed postgraduate studies at Stanford University.
Özkan joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2014.