New Faculty

Dr. Jonathan Sheehan joins the Department of Medicine

Dr. Jonathan Sheehan joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases as Associate Professor in August, 2019.

Dr. Sheehan earned his Ph. D. degree in Biochemistry with Walter Chazin at Vanderbilt University, studying calcium-binding proteins using NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) and protein design. He completed post-doctoral training in computational structural biology with Jens Meiler in the Vanderbilt Center for Structural Biology. Since 2009, he has been a research-track faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and the Center for Structural Biology at Vanderbilt University, where he served as Director of the Personalized Structural Biology program.

Dr. Sheehan has contributed to research collaborations in a dozen departments, performing computational outreach and education for laboratories that require expertise in structural biology techniques. He has developed broad experience in comparative modeling, molecular dynamics of proteins and nucleic acids, ab-initio structure prediction, free energy calculations, protein-protein and protein-ligand docking, high-throughput virtual screening, in-silico mutational analysis, and protein design. He also helps investigators interpret experimental results from a structural, mechanistic perspective.

Using these techniques, he conducts research to support the choice of specific drugs in cancer cases driven by novel mutations. He assists physicians in the Undiagnosed Diseases Network by using the genomic sequence variations of individual patients to predict the structural and functional effects on the expressed mutant proteins. He has helped virologists develop testable hypotheses about the mechanism of HIV internalization and capsid assembly, and provided atomic-resolution models of ion channels to investigators probing the function of individual protein residues in neurologic and kidney diseases.

Prompted by the belief that every biomedical project can benefit from a structural understanding of the molecules involved, Dr. Sheehan devotes a third of his time to teaching. This takes the form of software workshops in the U.S. and abroad, sections of graduate courses, and individualized training in subjects from high-performance computing to biochemistry and structural biology. This instruction is tailored to participants ranging from high-school students to center directors, and has garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback.