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Samuel Cho - Wake Forest University. Winston-Salem, NC, US

Samuel Cho Samuel Cho

Associate Professor of Physics and Computer Science | Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, NC, UNITED STATES

Cho has a unique perspective on biomolecular research of cellular processes.


With expertise in both biophysics and computer science, Samuel Cho has a unique perspective on biomolecular research of cellular processes: he understands how human cells work at the molecular level, and he can manipulate cutting-edge technology to create simulations that deepen that understanding for scientists everywhere.

In his recent research into enzymes that aid tumor growth, Cho and his colleagues used computer simulations to understand how RNA functions. What he found – new, in-depth views of how that RNA helps tumor cells grow – has opened a path for developing treatments that target cancerous tumors. Now, he’s working with students to use the graphic processing units in video gaming technology to make this work even quicker.

Areas of Expertise (11)

Computational Biophysics

Molecular Dynamics Simulations

GPU-Based Programming

Protein and RNA Folding

Biomolecular Assembly

Molecular Machines

Protein Folding Kinetics

RNA Folding Mechanisms

Protein-RNA Machines: Ribosome Assembly

Protein-Nanoparticle Interactions

GPU-Based MD Simulations





Wake Forest professor of physics and computer science Samuel Cho in his Olin Hall office. loading image Wake Forest senior biophysics major Manal Ahmidouch ('18) discusses her research into creating an drug that targets cancer DNA with advisor Samuel Cho. loading image




Accomplishments (4)

NIH Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship (UMd) (professional)

2007 - 2010

Molecular Biophysics Training Program (UCSD) (professional)

2003 - 2005

Teaching Assistant Excellence Award (UCSD) (professional)


President's Scholar Award (UMBC) (professional)

1996 - 2000

Education (2)

University of California, San Diego: Ph.D., Physical Chemistry 2007

University of Maryland Baltimore County: B.S., Biochemistry & Computer Science 2001

Media Appearances (2)

Gender equality in STEM careers a long way off, statistics reveal

Spectrum News  


Universities across the United States have developed programs to attract more women to STEM careers; however, statistics show those efforts are not translating. Wake Forest University students, faculty and administrators are working on formal research, departmental evaluations and innovative outreach to change the statistics.

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Video games take role in treating cancer at Wake Forest



Dr. Samuel Cho, an assistant professor of physics and computer science, uses graphics processing units (GPUs) -- the same technology that makes video ames look so realistic -- to simulate the inner-workings of human cells...

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Articles (5)

MD Simulations of tRNA and Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases: Dynamics, Folding, Binding, and Allostery International Journal of Molecular Sciences

While tRNA and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases are classes of biomolecules that have been extensively studied for decades, the finer details of how they carry out their fundamental biological functions in protein synthesis remain a challenge. Recent molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are verifying experimental observations and providing new insight that cannot be addressed from experiments alone. Throughout the review, we briefly discuss important historical events to provide a context for how far the field has progressed over the past few decades. We then review the background of tRNA molecules, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, and current state of the art MD simulation techniques for those who may be unfamiliar with any of those fields. Recent MD simulations of tRNA dynamics and folding and of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase dynamics and mechanistic characterizations are discussed. We highlight the recent successes and discuss how important questions can be addressed using current MD simulations techniques. We also outline several natural next steps for computational studies of AARS:tRNA complexes.

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Coarse-Grained and Atomistic MD Simulations of RNA and DNA Folding Israel Journal of Chemistry

Although the main features of the protein folding problem are coming into clearer focus, the microscopic viewpoint of nucleic acid folding mechanisms is only just beginning to be addressed. Experiments, theory, and simulations are pointing to complex thermodynamic and kinetic mechanisms. As is the case for proteins, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations continue to be indispensable tools for providing a molecular basis for nucleic acid folding mechanisms. In this review, we provide an overview of biomolecular folding mechanisms focusing on nucleic acids. We outline the important interactions that are likely to be the main determinants of nucleic acid folding energy landscapes. We discuss recent MD simulation studies of empirical force field and Go-type MD simulations of RNA and DNA folding mechanisms to outline recent successes and the theoretical and computational challenges that lie ahead.

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Computational and Experimental Characterizations of Silver Nanoparticle–Apolipoprotein Biocorona The Journal of Physical Chemistry B

With the advancement of nanotoxicology and nanomedicine, it has been realized that nanoparticles (NPs) interact readily with biomolecular species and other chemical and organic matter to result in biocorona formation. The field of the environmental health and safety of nanotechnology, or NanoEHS, is currently lacking significant molecular-resolution data, and we set out to characterize biocorona formation through electron microscopy imaging and circular dichroism spectroscopy that inspired a novel approach for molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of protein–NP interactions. In our present study, we developed a novel GPU-optimized coarse-grained MD simulation methodology for the study of biocorona formation, a first in the field. Specifically, we performed MD simulations of a spherical, negatively charged citrate-covered silver nanoparticle (AgNP) interacting with 15 apolipoproteins. At low ion concentrations, we observed the formation of an AgNP–apolipoprotein biocorona. Consistent with the circular dichroism (CD) spectra, we observed a decrease in α-helices coupled with an increase in β-sheets in apolipoprotein upon biocorona formation.

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Origins of barriers and barrierless folding in BBL Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

In contrast to classical chemical phenomenology, theory suggests that proteins may undergo downhill folding without an activation barrier under certain thermodynamic conditions. Recently, the BBL protein was proposed to fold by such a downhill scenario, but discrepancies between experimental results found in different groups argue against this...

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P versus Q: Structural reaction coordinates capture protein folding on smooth landscapes Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Minding your p's and q's has become as important to protein-folding theorists as it is for those being instructed in the rules of etiquette. To assess the quality of structural reaction coordinates in predicting the transition-state ensemble (TSE) of protein folding, we benchmarked the accuracy of four structural reaction coordinates against the kinetic measure P fold, whose value of 0.50 defines the stochastic separatrix for a two-state folding mechanism...

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