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Thomas G. Spiro

Thomas G. Spiro, PhD. Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1960

(Bioinorganic and Biophysical Chemistry)

(206) 685-4964

Spiro group website

Research Interests

The Spiro group researches in the areas of bioinorganic chemistry, biophysical chemistry, and environmental chemistry. We study the involvement of inorganic elements such as iron, copper, and manganese in biological and environmental processes.


The hemoglobin molecule, an exemplar of allostery, is being studied in real time, as it changes its conformation between high- and low-affinity oxygen-binding states.Biological molecules are compared with synthetic analogues using spectroscopic methods, particularly resonance Raman spectroscopy, which allows analysis of light scattered from a sample that is illuminated in an absorption band. The resonance Raman spectrum contains vibrational modes of the light-absorbing part of the molecule and provides a means of monitoring structural features of specific sites in complex systems.


In addition, the use of pulsed lasers allows us to monitor transient species in real time, using photolysis or heat (T-jump) pulses to initiate reactions of interest. We are applying these techniques to protein dynamics, examining how proteins unfold, and how they change their shape in response to ligand binding (allostery).


Representative Publications

Spiro, T. G.; Soldatova, A. V.; Balakrishnan, G. “CO, NO, and O2 as vibrational probes of heme protein interactions.” Coord. Chem. Rev. 2013, 257, 511-527.


Soldatova, A. V.; Butterfield, C.; Oyerinde, O. F.; Tebo, B. M.; Spiro, T. G. “Multicopper oxidase involvement in both Mn(II) and Mn(III) oxidation during bacterial formation of MnO2.” J. Biol. Inorg. Chem. 2012, 17, 1151-1158.


Balakrishnan, G.; Hu, Y.; Spiro, T. G. “His26 protonation in cytochrome c triggers microsecond β-sheet formation and heme exposure: implications for apoptosis.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 19061–19069.


Spiro, T. G.; Soldatova, A. V. “Ambidentate H-bonding of NO and O2 in heme proteins.” J. Inorg. Biochem. 2012, 115, 204-210.


Jones, E. M.; Balakrishnan, G.; Spiro, T. G. “Heme reactivity is uncoupled from quaternary structure in gel-encapsulated hemoglobin: a resonance Raman spectroscopic study.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 3461-3471.


More Publications...


Publications list from Spiro Group Research

Awards & Activities

  • ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry, 2005
  • Biophysical Society Founders Award, 2005
  • Wellcome Visiting Professor in the Basic Medical Sciences, Univ. of British Columbia, 2000
  • AAAS Fellow, 1991
  • Guggenheim Fellow, 1989

More Awards and Activities

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