Ruel McKnight

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
ISC 327C

Dr. Ruel McKnight has been a member of the Geneseo faculty since 2004

Portrait of Ruel McKnight

Office Hours

or by appointment if available

Curriculum Vitae


  • Velappan, A.B., Maity, B., Kasper, B.S., McKnight, R.E., Seth, D., and Debnath, J., Alteration in DNA Binding Pattern of Conformationally Locked NC(O)N systems: A Spectroscopic Investigation, Int. J. Biol. Macromol. 2016, 85, 497-504.

  • McKnight, R.E., Jackson, D.R. and Yokoyama, K., Temperature Dependence of Congo Red Binding to Amyloid Beta 12-28 , Eur. Biophys. J. 2013, 42 (6), 495-501.

  • McKnight, R.E., Insights into the Relative DNA Binding Affinity and Preferred Binding Mode of Homologous Compounds Using Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC). (Book Chapter) In: Applications of Calorimetry in a Wide Context - Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Isothermal Titration Calorimetry and Microcalorimetry, Elkordy, A.A., Ed, InTech, 2013, ISBN 978-953-51-0947-1.

  • McKnight, R.E., Reisenauer, E., Pintado, M.V., Polasani, S.R. and Dixon, D.W., Substituent effect on the preferred DNA binding mode and affinity of a homologous series of naphthalene diimides, Bioorg. Med. Chem., Lett., 2011, 21 (14), 4288-4291.

  • Yokoyama, K., Fisher, A.D., Amori, A. R., Welchons, D., and McKnight, R.E., Spectroscopic and Calorimetric Studies of Congo Red Dye-Amyloid Beta Peptide Complexes, J. Biophys. Chem., 2010, 1 (3), 153-163.

  • McKnight, R.E., Onogul, B., Polasani, S.R., Gannon, M.K. II, and Detty, M.R., Substituent Control of DNA Binding Modes in a Series of Chalcogenoxanthylium Photosensitizers as Determined by Isothermal Titration Calorimetry and Topoisomerase I DNA Unwinding Assay, Bioorg. Med. Chem., 2008, 16 (24), 10221-10227.

  • McKnight, R.E., Ye, M., Ohulchanskyy, T., Sahabi, S., Wetzel, B.R., Wagner, S.J., Skripchenko, A. and Detty, M.R., Synthesis of Analogues of a Flexible Thiopyrylium Photosensitizer for Purging the Blood-Borne Pathogens and Binding Mode and Affinity Studies of their Complexes with DNA, Bioorg. Med. Chem., 2007, 15 (13), 4406-4418.

  • McKnight, R.E., Gleason, A.B., Keyes, J.A. and Sahabi, S., Binding Mode and Affinity Studies of DNA Binding Agents using Topoisomerase I DNA-Unwinding Assay, Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2007, 17 (4), 1013-1017.

  • McKnight, R.E., Zhang, J., Dixon, D.W., Binding of a Homologous Series of Anthraquinones to DNA, Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2004, 14 (2), 401-404.


Research Interests

It is now well established that a wide range of important therapeutic drugs exert their effects by binding to DNA. These compounds generally interfere with the actions of many vital enzymes and protein factors involved in DNA metabolism. However, a major limiting factor with the use of these drugs is the occurrence of deleterious side effects. The McKnight research group is currently involved in the study of drug-DNA interactions using calorimetric (ITC), spectroscopic (CD, fluorescence) and gel electrophoretic techniques. The long term goal is to develop a fundamental understanding of drug-DNA interactions and to use this knowledge as a guide to rationally design less toxic therapeutics.

Additional Information

Biochemistry Program


  • BIOL 335: Foundations of Biochemistry

    This course will introduce the principles of biochemistry to students who have a strong interest in biology. The course is a one semester survey of the chemistry of living organisms that will focus on metabolic regulation and pathway integration. It will also incorporate elements of molecular evolution as it relates to protein structure/function.

  • CHEM 129: Intro to Lab Research in Chem

    An introduction to research methods used in chemistry laboratories. Topics include utilizing chemical literature, experimental design and iteration, and scientific communication. Students complete a quantitative analysis project utilizing spectroscopic methods and write a technical report describing their work.

  • CHEM 300: Principles of Biochemistry

    A one-semester survey of the chemistry of living organisms. Topics studied include enzymes and enzyme kinetics, proteins, nucleic acids and protein synthesis, oxidative phosphorylation, photosynthesis, metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and nitrogen-containing compounds.

  • CHEM 352: Chemistry Senior Seminar

    A seminar course designed to give students advanced scientific writing experience while preparing and formally presenting a scientific paper and demonstrating basic chemical knowledge.