Profile photo of Kwaku Dayie
Contact Info
Office: 2117 Biomolecular Sciences
Phone: 301-405-3165
Kwaku Dayie


  • B.A., Physics with Honors, 1990, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York
  • Ph.D., Biophysics, 1996, Harvard University, Cambridge MA
  • Postdoctoral, 1998, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
  • Postdoctoral, 2000, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA

Professional Experience

  • Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, 2020 –
  • Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, 2011-2020
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, 2008-2011
  • Assistant Staff, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 2000-2008
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Biochemistry Department, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, 2001-2008
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Biomedical Sciences, Kent State University, Kent, OH, 2002-2008

Research Interest

The structural and dynamic basis of RNA signaling in gene regulation of pathogenic bacteria, RNA viruses (HIV, HBV) and long non-protein coding RNA; structure, interactions, dynamics, and function of RNA complexes involved in catalysis; enzymatic and chemical methods of labeling RNAs; RNA-Drug interactions, NMR methods development for large macromolecules; use of complementary methods for RNA structure determination (SAXS, WAXS).

Professional Societies

American Chemical Society; American Association for the Advancement of Science; National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers; RNA Society

Major Recognitions and Honors

  • Henry C. Welcome Fellowship, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, (2008)
  • National Technical Association Nsoroma Technology Award (2007)
  • Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship (1998)
  • Full Membership of Harvard-Radcliffe Sigma-Xi Scientific Research Society (1997)
  • Graduate Travel Award to Present at 37th Experimental Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (1996)
  • Southworth Prize in Physics for Graduate with Highest GPA in Physics (1990)
  • Competitive International Scholarship to Study at the United World College of the Atlantic, South Wales, UK (1984-1986);
  • Valedictorian, Achimota Secondary School (1984)

Significant Professional Service and Activities

Foundations: National Institutes of Health Review Panelist (2012-2018); National Science Foundation Review Panelist (2005-2006); American Heart Association Review Panelist (2004-2005); Ad Hoc Reviewer for ACS Petroleum Research Fund, U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, Research Corporation, Austrian Science Fund.
Grand Awards Judge for the 2003 Intel International Science and Engineering fair (ISEF) of Top High School Science and Engineering Students from Around the World in Cleveland (May 11-17 2003)
Editorial boards: 2018-Molecules MDPI (Chemical Biology); 2018-NPG Scientific Reports (Chemical Biology)


Dayie is author and co-author of 41 research publications, 9 review articles, and 1 book chapter.

Students Mentored

Two high-school students, 12 undergraduate students, and 10 postdoctoral associates. Graduated 4 and currently mentoring 5 graduate students.

Catalysis, Signaling, and RNA based Gene Regulation

I. Research Focus

Our group is focused on characterizing the structural and dynamics basis of molecular signaling in ribonucleic acids (RNAs) involved in fundamental cellular processes such as catalysis (e.g. splicing by group II introns) and regulation of gene expression (e.g. riboswitches; DNA and RNA viruses such as HBV and HIV; and long non-protein coding RNAs). Splicing defects are implicated in human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Cystic Fibrosis, and various cancers; riboswitches are recognized as antibacterial drug targets for pathogenic bacteria; and HIV and HBV continue to afflict millions. Characterizing these RNAs will serve as a guide to the rational design of novel RNA-based drugs.

II. Methodological Approach

We use primarily very high resolution multi-dimensional Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy supplemented by other biophysical tools (X-ray, Fluorescence and Raman Spectroscopies, Small angle x-ray scattering) and chemical biological methods (chemical and enzymatic synthesis) to probe the molecular basis of RNA recognition (Dayie KT, 2008Int. J. Mol. Sci. 9, 1214; Chen et al.2012Nucleic Acids Res, 40, 3117; Longhini et al 2016a Methods. 103:11-7; 2016b Nucleic Acids Res. 2016 Apr 7;44(6):e52).

III. Development of New Technologies

Large RNAs pose three serious problems for biophysical characterization: severe overlap and rapid signal decay in NMR, and pervasive misfolding. To address these problems, we continue to develop chemical and biochemical approaches to label nucleotides and make RNA by native preparation methods. By incorporating non-radioactive isotopes and fluorescent dyes at defined sites within RNA, we can easily probe the structure, dynamics and function of large RNAs in their natively folded state (Dayie et al. 1998J. Magn. Reson. 130, 97; Gumbs et al., 2006, RNA, 12, 1693; Dayie et al., 2007Anal. Biochem. 362:278; Dayie and Thakur, 2010J. Biomol. NMR, 47, 19; Luo et al 2011Nucleic Acids Res, 39, 8559; Arthur et al, 2011, Protein Expr Purif. 76, 229; Alvarado et al 2014 Methods Enzymol. 2014;549:133-62). We are also developing new NMR pulse sequences that make use of these new labels to determine the structures of larger (> 20 kDA) RNAs as shown in these references: Dayie KT, 2005, J. Biomol NMR 32,129 & Gumbs et al., 2006, RNA, 12, 1693; Thakur et al 2012, J. Biomol NMR 52, 103; Alvarado et al 2014 Chembiochem.15(11):1573-7; Chen et al 2016 Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 55(8):2724-7; Roy et al 2017 PLoS Comput Biol. 13(3):e1005406; LeBlanc et al 2017 Nucleic Acids Res. 45(16):e146.

IV. Applications to Biological Problems

An emerging tenet of RNA biophysics is that flexibility is intrinsically a necessary part of RNA biomolecular structure and function. Using NMR relaxation measurements and newly developed software for RNA dynamic analysis (Eldho & Dayie, 2007, J. Mol. Biol. 365:930-944), we have shown that dynamics is likely important for the catalytic mechanism of splicing of the Group II Intron ribozyme and riboswitch function. (Eldho & Dayie, 2007J. Mol. Biol. 365:930-944; Dayie and Padgett, 2008RNA, 14:1-7; Chen et al., 2012Nucleic Acids Res., 40, 3117; Chen et al 2016 Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 55(8):2724-7). These new technologies are being applied to decipher the role of dynamics in molecular recognition utilized in riboswitch and viral RNA based gene regulation.