Piero Bianco PhD

Piero Bianco

Piero Bianco

Associate Professor of Microbiology

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Bacterial Pathogenesis; DNA Replication, Recombination and Repair; Molecular genetics; Protein Function and Structure

Contact Information
321 Cary Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: (716) 829-2599
Fax: (716) 829-2158

Professional Summary:

My associates and I use a combination of biochemical and biophysical approaches to study the molecular basis of stalled DNA replication fork rescue. Our model organism is the well-characterized bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), since the majority of the proteins thought to be involved in fork rescue are known. Most of our experimental work is concerned with the function and regulation of the complexes that control fork rescue, with studies focused primarily on the role of the single-strand DNA binding protein (SSB) and several recombination DNA helicases. Comparative studies are also underway using selected components of some medically relevant bacterial organisms. We collaborate with scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other research institutions.

The team working in my lab consists of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and a technician. We seek to understand fork rescue utilizing both bulk-phase and single molecule techniques. Typically, studies focus initially on purification and characterization of the various proteins (there are now more than 10 being studied). We study DNA binding, unwinding and the hydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) using a combination of modern spectroscopic (both ultraviolet–visible and fluorescence) and equilibrium binding methods. The goal of these initial studies is to understand the range of DNA substrates on which an enzyme can act, as a means to understanding its role in vivo. This is followed by careful single molecule studies using a technique I pioneered that combines optical tweezers, microfluidics and high-resolution fluorescence microscopy.

My research team is also pursuing a new area of research targeted at developing small molecule inhibitors. These are aimed at disrupting binding between SSB and the 12-14 proteins comprising the SSB-interactome. As SSB is an essential protein and its binding to interactome partners is required for viability, the goal of these studies is to identify inhibitors that will be further developed into novel antibiotics.

Education and Training:

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Physical Biochemistry and Biophysics, UC Davis (2001)
  • PhD, Biochemistry, Univeristy of Texas Medical School at Houston (1993)
  • BS, Biology, Abilene Christian University, Honors (1987)


  • Associate Professor, University at Buffalo (2007-present)
  • Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo (2001–2007)

Awards and Honors:

  • Innovation, Creation & Discovery Award from the Research Foundation of SUNY (2005)
  • Top 100 Researchers at the University at Buffalo (2005)
  • Frontiers In Bioscience Society of Scientists (1998)
  • O.B. Williams Award, American Society for Microbiology, Texas Branch. (1992)
  • Outstanding Young Men of America (1989)

Research Expertise:

  • Bacterial genetics: Genetic recombination and DNA repair
  • Biophysics: SIngle molecule studies

Research Centers:

  • Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology

UB 2020 Strategic Strengths:

  • Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics
  • Integrated Nanostructured Systems

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • July 2017–April 2021
    RNA EXO-Codes: A novel way to reprogram pathological exosomes
    National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioenengineering
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • June 2013–December 2017
    Mechanistic studies of stalled DNA replication fork rescue
    Role: Co-Investigator

Journal Articles:

See all (21 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • Biophysical Society (2002–present)

School News:

In the Media:

Clinical Specialties:

Clinical Offices:

Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

321 Cary Hall
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: (716) 829-2599
Fax: (716) 829-2158