James Penner-Hahn

Research Scientist
Aniruddha Deb

Jay Stasser
Sam Pazicni

Graduate Students
Diana Hilton
Jesse Ward
Jenna Welby

Avery Chandler
Brian Sullivan



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The Penner-Hahn group is part of the Department of Chemistry and Biophysics Research Division at the University of Michigan.

Biophysical and Physical Inorganic Chemistry

Spectroscopic investigation of metal site structure in bioinorganic systems.  There is a large group of enzymes (including methionine synthase and farnesyl transferase) in which a Zn active site is intimately involved in transfer of an alkyl group from an alkyl donor to a thiol acceptor.  We are interested in understanding the detailed mechanism of these enzymes.

Determination of the "metallome" for yeast.  It is estimated that as many as one-third of all proteins are metalloproteins.  We are engaged in attempting to identify and characterize the metal binding site in each of these proteins.

Development of new techniques in x-ray spectroscopy. X-ray spectroscopy is one of the premier methods for determining the local site structure of metal ions in biological systems.  In addition to using established x-ray spectroscopic methods, we are interested in developing new methods, including the use of polarization properties to study the physical basis of x-ray absorption edge structure, the correlation of optical and x-ray absorption properties of metal ions, and the relationship of these properties to metal-ion electronic structure.  Recent work has focused on high-resolution x-ray emission spectroscopy.

In situ study of metal speciation in biological tissue.  In order to fully understand the function of metal ions in biological systems, it is necessary to know both the localization and the speciation off the metal ions, part of the new field of inorganic physiology.  Current interests involve the distribution of metals in red blood cells infected with malaria and the distribution of metals in the hippocampus.

Research Details

Zinc-promoted alkyl-transfer chemistry

Determination of the yeast metallome

In situ imaging of transition metals in biological tissue

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JPH Lectures on XAS


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One of the main techniques used in our research is x-ray absorption spectroscopy

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