Sergey Michael Bezrukov, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Section on Molecular Transport


Building 9, Room 1N124
9 Memorial Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814


Research Topics

Biophysics of Large Membrane Channels

We study mitochondrial and bacterial membrane proteins that form “large” beta-barrel channels responsible for metabolite fluxes between cells and cellular compartments.  In particular, we are interested in the physical mechanisms of their functioning and regulation under normal and pathological conditions.  Among many wet-lab approaches such as fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, bilayer overtone analysis, and confocal microscopy, our hallmark method is reconstitution of these proteins into planar lipid membranes in order to study them at the single-molecule level.  Empirical findings obtained in these experiments are rationalized within a framework of a physical theory of channel-facilitated transport that brings understanding necessary to design new strategies to effectively correct the deviant interactions associated with disease.


Dr. Sergey Michael Bezrukov received his M.S. in physics from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Russia, his Ph.D. in biophysics from Moscow State University, and a D.Sci. in physics and mathematics from the Russian Academy of Sciences. He started his career as a researcher at the St. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute in Russia and moved to United States in 1990, first as a visiting research professor at the University of Maryland. In 1992, he joined the National Institutes of Health as a visiting scientist. He was awarded tenure by NIH in 2002. Dr. Bezrukov has authored numerous scientific papers, five of them published in Nature (London). He has organized and chaired many international meetings and workshops. Dr. Bezrukov’s recent honors include election to Fellowship in the American Physical Society (2009) and the NIH Director’s Award in Science and Medicine (2010). Dr. Bezrukov is the Chief of the Section on Molecular Transport,DIR NICHD/NIH, a position he has held since October 2002. Dr. Bezrukov’s section combines physical theory with experiments on bacterial, mitochondrial, and toxin-induced membrane channels, reconstituted in planar lipid bilayers, in order to address fundamental questions of membrane transport. This line of research serves as the basis for the development of new approaches to treatment of diseases where regulation of transport through ion channels plays the key role.

Selected Publications

  1. Rostovtseva TK, Gurnev PA, Protchenko O, Hoogerheide DP, Yap TL, Philpott CC, Lee JC, Bezrukov SM. α-Synuclein Shows High Affinity Interaction with Voltage-dependent Anion Channel, Suggesting Mechanisms of Mitochondrial Regulation and Toxicity in Parkinson Disease. J Biol Chem. 2015;290(30):18467-77.

  2. Berezhkovskii AM, Dagdug L, Bezrukov SM. Discriminating between anomalous diffusion and transient behavior in microheterogeneous environments. Biophys J. 2014;106(2):L09-11.

  3. Gurnev PA, Roark TC, Petrache HI, Sodt AJ, Bezrukov SM. Cation-Selective Channel Regulated by Anions According to Their Hofmeister Ranking. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017;56(13):3506-3509.

  4. Hoogerheide DP, Noskov SY, Jacobs D, Bergdoll L, Silin V, Worcester DL, Abramson J, Nanda H, Rostovtseva TK, Bezrukov SM. Structural features and lipid binding domain of tubulin on biomimetic mitochondrial membranes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017;114(18):E3622-E3631.

  5. Nestorovich EM, Bezrukov SM. Designing inhibitors of anthrax toxin. Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2014;9(3):299-318.

This page was last updated on July 12th, 2017