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


  • CHEM 301: Biochemistry Laboratory

    Students will be introduced to a selection of standard biochemical procedures such as DNA and protein purification, chromatographic separation, gel electrophoresis, dialysis, enzyme assay, and DNA analysis techniques.

  • CHEM 302: Biochemistry I

    Introduction to the chemistry of living organisms. Structure-to-function relationships of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids are explored, with an emphasis on molecular interactions. Other topics include enzyme kinetics, catalytic mechanism, and modes of regulation, as well as, application of protein function such as oxygen transport, muscle contraction, the immune response, membrane transport, and biological signaling.

  • CHEM 305: Tops Anticancer Therap Biochem

    This course conducts a survey of the main approaches in cancer therapy. A broad understanding and appreciation of the main modes of action adopted by anticancer therapeutic drugs. Topics will be correlated to the biomolecules and pathways learned in prior biochemistry and biology courses. A broad-based knowledge and comprehension of the salient properties and functions of the main classes of biomolecules, as well as the central metabolic, regulatory and bioenergetic pathways will be assumed. Prerequisites: CHEM 304 or (CHEM 300 and BIOL 300). Credits: 3(3-0) Not offered on a regular basis.