Krisztina Varga

Phone: (603) 862-5375
Office: Molecular, Cellular, & Biomedical Sciences, Rudman Hall, Durham, NH 03824

Current research and/or professional activities:
Antifreeze proteins :
Antifreeze proteins are found in a wide range of cold adapted organisms, and they contribute to their freeze resistance. Antifreeze proteins adsorb to the ice surface and inhibit the growth of ice crystals. The goal of this project is to investigate the mechanism by which antifreeze proteins protect against the damage typically inflicted by cold, including the underlying molecular mechanism of ice-binding. We also explore their applications in cryopreservation.

Membrane proteins :
Approximately one-third of all proteins are located in biological membranes. Membrane proteins have diverse biological functions, and it is estimated that they constitute at least half of all therapeutic drug targets. Structural elucidation of membrane proteins remains challenging, and less than 2% are structurally characterized. We utilize both solution and solid state NMR techniques to investigate membrane proteins in solution and in their native environment, in membranes.

Chiral nanoparticles:
Quantum dots are nanometer size semiconductor crystals with excellent and tunable electronic and optical properties. Colloidal quantum dots consist of an inorganic semiconductor core (e.g. CdSe) and an organic capping ligand shell (e.g. cysteine). The objective of this study is to determine how chiral organic ligands induce chiroptical activity in achiral semiconductor QDs and how QDs can be used to enhance the chiroptical signal of biomolecules. Chiral QDs are promising candidates for bioimaging, biosensing, environmental nanoassays, catalysis, and chiral memory.


  • Ph.D., Chemistry, Columbia University in the City of New York
  • M.S., Biology, St. John's University - New York
  • B.S., Chemistry, St. John's University - New York

Courses Taught

  • BCHM 850: Physical Biochemistry
  • BCHM 851: Principles of Biochemistry I
  • BCHM 999: Doctoral Research
  • BMCB 658: General Biochemistry
  • MCBS 901: Intro to Research in Life Sci
  • MCBS 999: Doctoral Thesis
  • MICR 999: Doctoral Research

Selected Publications

Falk, M., Falková, I., Kopečná, O., Bačíková, A., Pagáčová, E., Šimek, D., . . . Kratochvílová, I. (2018). Chromatin architecture changes and DNA replication fork collapse are critical features in cryopreserved cells that are differentially controlled by cryoprotectants. Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-018-32939-5

Hagemann, N., Joseph, S., Schmidt, H. -P., Kammann, C. I., Harter, J., Borch, T., . . . Kappler, A. (2017). Organic coating on biochar explains its nutrient retention and stimulation of soil fertility. Nature Communications, 8(1). doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01123-0

Varga, K., Tannir, S., Haynie, B. E., Leonard, B. M., Dzyuba, S. V., Kubelka, J., & Balaz, M. (2017). CdSe Quantum Dots Functionalized with Chiral, Thiol-Free Carboxylic Acids: Unraveling Structural Requirements for Ligand-Induced Chirality. ACS Nano, 11(10), 9846-9853. doi:10.1021/acsnano.7b03555

Balaz, M., Tannir, S., & Varga, K. (2017). Chiral multichromophoric supramolecular nanostructures assembled by single stranded DNA and RNA templates. Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 349, 66-83. doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2017.08.018

Warner, L., Gjersing, E., Follett, S. E., Elliott, K. W., Dzyuba, S. V., & Varga, K. (2016). The effects of high concentrations of ionic liquid on GB1 protein structure and dynamics probed by high-resolution magic-angle-spinning NMR spectroscopy. Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports, 8, 75-80. doi:10.1016/j.bbrep.2016.08.009

Choi, J. K., Haynie, B. E., Tohgha, U., Pap, L., Elliott, K. W., Leonard, B. M., . . . Balaz, M. (2016). Chirality Inversion of CdSe and CdS Quantum Dots without Changing the Stereochemistry of the Capping Ligand. ACS Nano, 10(3), 3809-3815. doi:10.1021/acsnano.6b00567

Tohgha, U., Deol, K. K., Porter, A. G., Bartko, S. G., Choi, J. K., Leonard, B. M., . . . Balaz, M. (2013). Ligand Induced Circular Dichroism and Circularly Polarized Luminescence in CdSe Quantum Dots. ACS Nano, 7(12), 11094-11102. doi:10.1021/nn404832f

Tohgha, U., Varga, K., & Balaz, M. (2013). Achiral CdSe quantum dots exhibit optical activity in the visible region upon post-synthetic ligand exchange with d- or l-cysteine. Chemical Communications, 49(18), 1844. doi:10.1039/c3cc37987f

Higman, V. A., Varga, K., Aslimovska, L., Judge, P. J., Sperling, L. J., Rienstra, C. M., & Watts, A. (2011). The Conformation of Bacteriorhodopsin Loops in Purple Membranes Resolved by Solid-State MAS NMR Spectroscopy. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 50(36), 8432-8435. doi:10.1002/anie.201100730

Warner, L. R., Varga, K., Lange, O. F., Baker, S. L., Baker, D., Sousa, M. C., & Pardi, A. (2011). Structure of the BamC Two-Domain Protein Obtained by Rosetta with a Limited NMR Data Set. Journal of Molecular Biology, 411(1), 83-95. doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2011.05.022

Most Cited Publications