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Ruel McKnight

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
ISC 327C
Portrait of Ruel McKnight

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

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


  • 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 304: Biochemistry II

    Continuation of the chemistry of living organisms. The chemistry of nucleic acids is explored in depth and these principles are applied to understanding the tools that biochemists use in the laboratory. Regulation of genes and the molecular interactions of protein-DNA complexes are also investigated. The last part of the course focuses on the chemistry of metabolism and biosynthesis, along with the mechanisms of regulation of these processes.

  • 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.