Our Faculty

headshot of Brian P. Callahan

Brian P. Callahan

Associate Professor



Prior to joining Binghamton University in 2012, Brian. Callahan earned a BS in biology magna cum laude from SUNY Cortland (1997), a PhD in biochemistry and biophysics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2005), then completed six years of postdoctoral training first at UNC, followed by stints at the Wadsworth Center (NY) and the University at Albany (NY). His primary research mentors during those training periods were National Academy of Sciences members Richard Wolfenden (UNC) and Marlene Belfort (UAlbany).

Research Overview

Research in the Callahan lab blends chemistry and biology. They pursue challenging scientific problems that are relevant to human health and disease yet understudied. Projects can be hypothesis-driven or more technology-focused. The lab’s current work concentrates on the unusual biogenesis of hedgehog proteins, a family of cholesterol-modified hormones that function physiologically during embryo development and patho-physiologically during a variety of cancers.

In general, the lab’s research projects follow three phases:

  1. Understand the chemistry of a biomolecular transformation
  2. Apply that understanding to devise novel means to control the transformation with small molecules and/or mutagenesis
  3. Integrate this synthetically controlled transformation into living cells and eventually into multicellular organisms to address significant questions in biomedicine.

Students in the Callahan lab work directly with the PI on designing experiments, interpreting results and writing up their findings. Research projects are most often led by a graduate student; however, undergraduate students in the group continue to make key contributions to the program. Accordingly, undergraduate students have co-authored several publications from the lab.

The Callahan lab is committed to sharing the results of its research through presentations at scientific meetings and peer-reviewed publications. Representative publications from the group are provided below. To date, three of their papers have been selected as cover features by the respective journal editors.

Since establishing the lab in 2012, Callahan has received generous financial support from the Department of Defense, the National Cancer Institute (NIH), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIH), NYS-DOH and the Research Foundation of SUNY, along with internal grants from Binghamton University. The lab is grateful to all these agencies and institutions for their commitment to scientific research and science education.

Research techniques

Recombinant protein expression; analytical chromatography; enzyme kinetic assays; protein engineering; synthetic chemistry; small molecule screening; bioconjugation; mammalian cell culture; flow cytometry; fluorescence microscopy; photoaffinity labeling.

Scientific collaborations

Between the Callahan lab, the Department of Chemistry and the Health Science Core Facility at Binghamton University, there is a wide diversity of contemporary instrumentation and scientific expertise available. To further expand their capabilities, they have established external collaborations with leaders in drug discovery at the NIH, structural biology at RPI and natural product chemistry at SUNY-ESF. The lab greatly enjoys these partnerships and is always looking to expand its scientific network.

Representative publications

A cell-based bioluminescence reporter assay of human Sonic Hedgehog protein autoprocessing to identify inhibitors and activators. Ciulla DA, Dranchak P, Pezzullo JL, *Mancusi RA, Psaras AM, Rai G, Giner JL, Inglese J, Callahan BP. J Biol Chem. 2022 Dec; 298(12):102705.

Specificity Distorted: Chemical Induction of Biological Paracatalysis. Callahan BP, Ciulla DA, Wagner AG, Xu Z, Zhang X. Biochemistry. 2020 Sep 29; 59(38):3517-3522.

Protein-Nucleic Acid Conjugation with Sterol Linkers Using Hedgehog Autoprocessing.

Zhang X, Xu Z, *Moumin DS, Ciulla DA, Owen TS, *Mancusi RA, Giner JL, Wang C, Callahan BP. Bioconjug Chem. 2019 Nov 20; 30(11): 2799-2804. (selected for journal cover)

Chemical Bypass of General Base Catalysis in Hedgehog Protein Cholesterolysis Using a Hyper-Nucleophilic Substrate. Ciulla DA, *Jorgensen MT, Giner JL, Callahan BP.
J Am Chem Soc. 2018 Jan 24;140(3):916-918. (selected for journal cover)

*undergraduate co-author

Full list of peer-reviewed publications

Teaching Interests

  • Courses taught

    • BCHM-403 – Biochemistry
    • BCHM-426 – Biochemistry Lab
    • BCHM-480 – Biochemistry Senior Seminar
    • BCHM-508 – Advanced Methods in Biochemistry
    • CHEM-483/583 – Enzymes Structure/Function

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