Peter Butko

Peter Butko
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
Key word
Supramolecular assemblies: Macromolecular interactions/Lipid membranes/Membrane-active peptides and proteins/Amyloid self-assembly


  • In our laboratory we combine physical chemistry with biophysics and biochemistry. We have actively pursued three lines of research, mostly using fluorescence spectroscopy.
    1. Interactions of molecules with lipid membranes are an important step in the mechanism of action of a diverse group of molecules, such as cytolytic toxins, antimicrobial and cell-penetrating peptides, membrane channels, and dendrimers. Better understanding of these interactions would allow for better protection of our cells against bacterial or insect toxins, for more effective killing of bacterial pathogens, and for improved efficiency and/or targeting in intracellular drug delivery.
    2. Self-assembly of peptides and proteins into insoluble amyloid aggregates plays a positive role in life cycle of yeasts, fungi, and insects, but is pathogenic in higher organisms. Finding synthetic or natural-product inhibitors of this process would lead to novel strategies for treatment and/or prevention of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
    3. Macromolecular interactions are ubiquitous in the cell's biochemistry, and recently we embarked on a study of interactions between an enzyme that regulates cell proliferation and small synthetic molecules, with the aim of finding very specific inhibitors for possible treatment of cancer.
  • Personal history

  • 1974-1979 Student (Diploma in Physics)
    Komensky University, Bratislava, Slovakia
    1982 RNDr. (Doctor of Natural Sciences) in Biophysics/Chemical Physics
    Komensky University, Bratislava, Slovakia
    1982-1987 Graduate Student (Ph.D. in Biological Sciences)
    Hungarian Acad. Sci., Budapest, Hungary
    1987-1988 Postdoctoral Fellow (Physiology/Biophysics)
    Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
    1988-1989 Postdoctoral Fellow (Pharmacology/Cell Biophysics)
    University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA
    1989-1990 Postdoctoral Fellow (Membrane Biophysics)
    Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA
    1990-1992 (Biological Sciences)
    Brock Univ., St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
    1992-1994 Research Officer
    National Research Council, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    1994-1998 Research Fellow
    Brigham & Women’s Hosp./Harvard Med. School, Boston, MA, USA
    1998-2003 Assistant Professor (Chemistry and Biochemistry)
    University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA
    2003-2007 Associate Professor (Chemistry and Biochemistry)
    University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA
    2007-2010 Associate Professor (School of Pharmacy)
    University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA
    2010-2011 Adjunct Professor (Chemistry)
    Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, MD, USA
    2011-present G30 Designated Professor (Chemistry)
    Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
  • Awards

  • 2008 Spirit Award, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
    2002 Dean's Award for the Most Productive Junior Faculty, University of Southern Mississippi
    2000 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, Oak Ridge Associated Universities