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Stephen F. Sontum
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Program

Welcome to my Web page at Middlebury College. I am a biophysicist with a strong interest in the molecular and informational basis of biological processes. The above graphic shows the active site of two overlaid proteins, one in blue (DacA) and one in red (Ctp), that we have created using bioinformatics homology methods. These two proteins are models for the products of two genes found in Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. What is unusual about these models is that each gene has a different length and a different sequence, yet the active site amino acids lysine and serine, shown as tubes, sit right on top of each other indicating that the biochemical function of these genes are releated. These genes are not alone; the concerted effort during this last decade to sequence the human genome has resulted in over ten million new gene sequences, which have no corresponding protein three-dimensional structural information. Accurate prediction of protein structure from sequence data would open up the vast GenBank data set to direct inquiry about the biological function of genes and hopefully lead to better treatments for diseases like Lyme disease.

My teaching interests lie in describing the beauty of nature from a physical point of view. I teach general chemistry (CH103,CH104,CH107), analytical chemistry (CH311,CH312), physical chemistry (CH351,CH352), physical biochemistry (CH353), inorganic Chemistry (CH431), and bioinformatics (CH324). I also teach first year seminars on the history of Molecular Biology based on Shroedinger's book "What Is Life?" and Brownoski's book "The Accent of Man".

If you would like more information, follow the links on the left, or feel free to contact me directly.