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Gary Pielak, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member with research interest in protein biophysics emphasizing studies in living cells.

Kenan Distinguished Professor, Chemistry
Professor, Biochemistry and Biophysics
UNC-Chapel Hill
Molecular Therapeutics

Area of Interest

We use the formalism of equilibrium thermodynamics and the tools of molecular biology and biophysics to understand how nature designs proteins. Our research focuses on several cancer-related proteins including apaf-1, a protein that is key to apoptosis, and natively disordered proteins, a new class of proteins whose members control cellular signaling and regulation. We bring to bear techniques such as random- and directed-mutagenesis, circular dichroism spectropolarimetry, differential scanning calorimetry, isothermal titration calorimetry, analytical ultracentrifugation, mass pectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Find publications on PubMed

Awards and Honors

  • Invited lecture, Protein Society Annual Symposium (Vancouver, Canada), 2024
  • Plenary lecture, EUROMAR (Bilbao, Spain), 2024
  • Fellow of the Biophysical Society Invited Speaker, Protein Folding Dynamics Gordon Research Conference (Galveston, TX), 2023
  • UNC Johnston Teaching Excellence Award, 2023
  • McElvian Lecture, Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2023
  • UNC Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring, 2022
  • Invited speaker, Specificity Determinants of Biomolecular Interactions, commemorating the late professor Aharon Katzir (Rehovot Israel), 2022
  • Invited Speaker, German Biophysical Society (DGfB) Meeting (Konstanz, Germany) 2021
  • Plenary Lecture, EUROMAR (Portorož, Slovenia, remote), 2020
  • Dr. and Mrs. Satti Paddi and Parvarti Reddy Public Lecture, Understanding Protein Behaviour in Living Cells, Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, 2019
  • Invited Speaker, Protein Folding Dynamics Gordon Research Conference (Galveston, TX), 2019
  • UNC-CH Excellence in Basic Science Mentoring Award, 2017
  • UNC Lifetime Mentor Award Editorial Advisor Board, 2017
  • Protein Science Invited Speaker, Nobel Symposium on Protein Folding: From Mechanisms to Impact on Cells, (Stockholm, Sweden), 2016
  • Carl Brändén Award from the Protein Society, 2016
Headshot of Gary Pielak.
  • Phone Number

    (919) 962-4495 (Office Phone)

  • Address

    Department of Chemistry

    3250 Genome Sciences Building

    CB# 3290

    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3290