Research Program: Cancer Measurement Technology and Data Science
Strategic Theme: Molecular Measurment
Aleksei Aksimentiev’s research aims to understand the molecular basis of drug resistance in cancer. His goal is to connect atomic-scale structures of DNA, nucleosomes, and their modification to drug resistance by characterizing the microscopic processes leading to genome changes. He uses all-atom and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations to describe the microscopic mechanics of DNA, DNA binding to histone proteins in a nucleosome, and self-association of distance DNA fragments mediated by physical forces. Aksimentiev studies the organization of DNA in a nucleolus of a eukaryotic cell because it holds the key to unraveling the mechanisms of gene regulation and cell differentiation and is critical to establishing the molecular origins of cancer.
Aksimentiev received his master’s degree in physics from the Ivan Franko Lviv State University, Lviv, Ukraine, and his PhD in chemistry from the Institute of Physical Chemistry, Warsaw, Poland. After brief postdoctoral training at Mitsui Chemicals, Japan, he joined the University of Illinois as a postdoctoral research associate and became a Physics Department faculty member in 2005. Aksimentiev is a physics and bioengineering professor and an affiliate at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.