Contact Information

Office: WEL: 5.320
Phone: 512-471-5053

Brent L. Iverson

Professor, Faculty
University Distinguished Teaching Professor, Faculty
Warren J. and Viola Mae Raymer Professorship

Research Group

Iverson Labs


PhD, California Institute of Technology, 1987
BS, Stanford University, 1982
Postdoctorate, Scripps Research Institute (1987-90)


Beckman Center for the Design and Fabrication of Sensor Arrays; Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology; Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology

The production, characterization, and manipulation of large, functional molecules from three different points of view

Antibody and Enzyme Engineering with an emphasis on developing better methods for recombinant antibody or enzyme cloning and directed evolution. In collaboration with the Georgiou group (UT Chemical Engineering) several new technologies have been developed based on E. coli expression / FACS selection which have allowed us to enhance antibody affinity to remarkable levels, as well as quantitatively analyze the protein evolution process with an unprecedented level of precision. Several important antibodies have been developed including one currently being evaluated as a therapeutic prophylactic/intervention for anthrax infection. We have recently extended the work to include manipulation of enzyme catalysts.

Artificial macromolecules with defined higher order structure and function These systems involve the predictable folding of synthetic molecules into stable scaffolds, based on abiotic secondary structure elements. Our first generation molecules, called aedamers , fold in aqueous solution due to the stacking of alternating electron rich and electron deficient aromatic units. We have expanded this work to include a novel intermolecular recognition motif in water as well as applications to liquid crystals.

The chemistry of nucleic acid binding, recognition and modification with a primary focus on understanding and exploiting our newly created polyintercalating molecules. These molecules show sequence specificity, are amenable to combinatorial techniques and some derivatives are active against gram positive bacteria. We have recently used high filed NMR to determine the structure of the first threading tetraintercalator bound to its preferred site in double stranded DNA.


Representative Publications

 “A sequence-specific threading tetra-intercalator with an extremely slow dissociation rate constant”, Holman, G.; Zewail-Foote, M.; Rhoden Smith. A.; Johnson, K.A.; Iverson, B.L.;  2011, Nature Chemistry 3, 875–881.

 “Rethinking the term ‘pi-stacking’”, Martinez, C. and Iverson, B. 2012, Chem. Sci., 3, 2191-2201.

  “Subtle Recognition of 14-Base Pair DNA Sequences via Threading Polyintercalation”, Rhoden Smith, A.; Ikkanda, B.A.: Holman, G. and Iverson, B.L.; 2012, Biochemistry, 51, 4445-4452.

"Conjugated NDI-Donor Polymers: Exploration of Donor Size and Electrostatic Complementarity”, Alvey, P.M., Ono, R.J., Bielawski, C.W. and Iverson, B. L., 2013, Macromolecules, 46, 718–726

"Engineering of TEV protease variants by yeast ER sequestration screening (YESS) of combinatorial libraries", Yi, L., Gebhard, M., Li, Q., Taft, J., Georgiou, G. and Iverson, B., 2013, Proc. Nat. Acad. Of Sci., USA, 110, 7229-7234.