Melanie Ohi, Ph.D.

portrait of Melanie Ohi, Ph.D.
Rowena G. Matthews Collegiate Professor in the Life Sciences
Research Professor and Cryo-EM Facility Faculty Director, U-M Life Sciences Institute
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, U-M Medical School
LSI Grads and LSI Postdocs Faculty Advisor, U-M Life Sciences Institute


I am fascinated by how proteins and nucleic acids organize into dynamic structures. Although our categorization of the number and assortment of protein interactions is increasing, we still lack knowledge about how collections of proteins are precisely assembled into macromolecular machines. My research program is positioned to attack this formidable challenge. 

Generating 3-D snapshots of protein complexes and molecular machines is invaluable for generating comprehensive mechanistic models. Yet, the dynamic nature of many protein assemblies makes them inherently difficult to study using traditional structural approaches, such as X-ray crystallography. A promising, and rapidly advancing technique for obtaining macromolecular structural information is cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). By combining molecular EM with complementary structural, biochemical, biophysical and genetic methods, as well as, embracing a collaborative multi-team approach, we aim to address the molecular basis underlying important biological processes even when no atomic resolution structures are available. Our research goal is to generate detailed molecular models that will provide biological insight into function. 

Office: 6401
Life Sciences Institute
Mary Sue Coleman Hall
210 Washtenaw Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2216

Research Areas

  • cryo-electron microscopy
  • biochemistry
  • genetics
  • host-pathogen interactions
  • membrane proteins
  • nucleic acid-protein complexes
  • B.S., Chemistry, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash. (1996)
  • Ph.D., Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University (2002)
    Mentor: Kathy Gould
  • Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School (2002-2007)
    Mentor: Tom Walz 
  • National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award (2008)
  • Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2021)