Peter V. Cornish, PhD

Associate Professor


Director of Graduate Admissions


Contact Information

Phone 573-882-0443
Address 240 Schweitzer Hall


BS Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics Graceland University Lamoni, Iowa
PhD Biochemistry Texas A&M University College Station, Texas

Research Areas

RNA biochemistry, Single molecule FRET, NMR, RNA biochemistry, Ribosome function and dynamics, Optical Tweezers.

Research Description

Research in our laboratory is primarily focused on understanding the complexities of ribosome function using a variety of biophysical methods including NMR and single molecule techniques. One of our projects is in understanding translational regulation in particular the mechanism of recoding where the ribosome shifts reading frame due to the presence of specific structures within the mRNA. Recoding has been observed in all forms of life and has been shown to be essential for the viability of many viruses including HIV-1 and SARS coronavirus. We are also contributing to the ongoing effort of developing antiviral small molecules that specifically target stimulatory elements required for recoding. Another interest in our laboratory is in determining how the complex conformational motions of the ribosome relate to its function using single molecule FRET. Mutations within the ribosome or defects in ribosomal assembly affect its function, which has been associated with many diseases. Understanding how these diseases affect ribosomal motions should lead to the development of novel treatments. In the future, we plan to extend single molecule techniques to the study of other biological system as well as develop more sophisticated methods to address them.

Notable honors and service

  • Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences, 2012
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 2012

Selected Publications

Casy W, Prater AR, Cornish PV. (2018). Operative Binding of Class I Release Factors and YaeJ Stabilizes the Ribosome in the Nonrotated State. Biochemistry. 57(13):1954-1966. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.7b00824. [PubMed]

Chen B, Wood A, Pathak A, Mathai J, Bok S, Zheng H, Hamm S, Basuray S, Grant S, Gangopadhyay K, Cornish PV, Gangopadhyay S. (2016). Plasmonic gratings with nano-protrusions made by glancing angle deposition for single-molecule super-resolution imaging. Nanoscale. 8(24):12189-201. doi: 10.1039/c5nr09165a. [PubMed]

Shebl B, Menke DE, Pennella M, Poudyal RR, Burke DH, Cornish PV. (2016). Preparation of ribosomes for smFRET studies: A simplified approach. Arch Biochem Biophys. 603:118-30. doi: 10.1016/ [PubMed]

Chen B, Pathak A, Gangopadhyay K, Cornish PV, Gangopadhyay S. (2015). Single-Molecule Detection in Nanogap-Embedded Plasmonic Gratings. Nanobiomedicine (Rij). 2:8. doi: 10.5772/61094. eCollection 2015 Jan-Dec. [PubMed]

Smith JM, Leslie ME, Robinson SJ, Korasick DA, Zhang T, Backues SK, Cornish PV, Koo AJ, Bednarek SY, Heese A. (2014). Loss of Arabidopsis thaliana Dynamin-Related Protein 2B reveals separation of innate immune signaling pathways. PLoS Pathog. 10(12):e1004578. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004578. eCollection 2014 Dec. [PubMed]

Shebl B, Norman Z, Cornish PV. (2014). Ribosome structure and dynamics by smFRET microscopy. Methods Enzymol. 549:375-406. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-801122-5.00016-7. [PubMed]

Yu D, Qin P, Cornish PV. (2015). Single molecule studies of RNA-RNA interactions. Methods Mol Biol. 1240:97-112. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1896-6_7. [PubMed]

Yu D, Zhang C, Qin P, Cornish PV, Xu D. (2014). RNA-protein distance patterns in ribosomes reveal the mechanism of translational attenuation. Sci China Life Sci. 57(11):1131-9. doi: 10.1007/s11427-014-4753-8. [PubMed]

Qin P, Yu D, Zuo X, Cornish PV. (2014). Structured mRNA induces the ribosome into a hyper-rotated state. EMBO Rep. 15(2):185-90. doi: 10.1002/embr.201337762. [PubMed]

Bhatnagar K, Pathak A, Menke D, Cornish PV, Gangopadhyay K, Korampally V, Gangopadhyay S. (2012). Fluorescence enhancement from nano-gap embedded plasmonic gratings by a novel fabrication technique with HD-DVD. Nanotechnology. 23(49):495201. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/23/49/495201. [PubMed]

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