Tezcan, Akif
Bioinorganic and biophysical chemistry; Materials and Biomaterials Chemistry, Protein Structure, Function and Evolution

Contact Information
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Office: Urey Hall 6202
Phone: 858-534-4862
Email: tezcan@ucsd.edu
Web: tezcan.ucsd.edu
Group: View group members
Accepting Rotation Students: Yes
2001 Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
1995 B.A., Macalester College
Awards and Academic Honors
Guggenheim Fellow
Ernest Swift Lectureship
Kavli Frontiers Fellow
SBIC Early Career Award
Moore Distinguished Scholar, Caltech
Frasch Foundation Award
Saltman Lecture Award
Sloan Research Fellowship
Beckman Young Investigator Award
Research Interests
The overarching goal of the Tezcan Lab is to create and understand biological complexity through chemical and protein design approaches. Our research is motivated by the fact that proteins are the most versatile building blocks for the construction of biological machines (e.g., photosystem II, nitrogenase and cytochrome c oxidase) and advanced scaffolding materials (e.g., collagen superstructures, microtubules, viruses) that provide the necessary molecular components to sustain the complexity of living systems. However, the ability of laboratory scientists to control the self-assembly of proteins or to use them as synthetic building blocks has been limited owing to the chemical and structural complexity/heterogeneity of protein molecules. Inspired by fundamental principles of inorganic coordination chemistry and supramolecular chemistry, our group develops new chemical strategies for the construction of complex protein assemblies with sophisticated structures and physicochemical properties, and integrate such systems into living systems.

In parallel, we are interested in understanding the molecular details of biological nitrogen fixation. The conversion of molecular nitrogen into bioavailable forms such as ammonia is essential for the biosynthesis of amino and nucleic acids, as well as the production of fertilizers and countless industrial chemicals. The extreme conditions required by the industrial nitrogen fixation processes, however, translate into an immense dependence on fossil fuels and account for 1-2% of all human energy consumption. Our goal in this project is to elucidate the molecular mechanism of nitrogenase, a redox-metalloenzyme that catalyzes nitrogen fixation at ambient conditions. In particular, we aim to understand why and how ATP-hydrolysis is involved in nitrogen fixation, and use this knowledge to drive the nitrogenase reaction by using light or electrochemical energy instead of ATP hydrolysis.

Work by the Tezcan Group spans all areas of chemistry and utilizes a diverse array of tools ranging from molecular biology, chemical synthesis, polymer science, and computational chemistry to X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, spectroscopy and advanced materials characterization techniques.
Primary Research Area
Inorganic Chemistry
Interdisciplinary interests
Macromolecular Structure

Selected Publications