Welcoming New Faculty: Elena Yarmola

Elena YarmolaElena Yarmola, Ph.D., is a new research associate professor in the Department of Oral Biology, working in the research laboratory of Jeannine Brady, Ph.D.

Before joining the UF College of Dentistry in September 2019, Yarmola worked in the UF College of Medicine’s Department of Medicine from 2003 to 2011, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering from 2011 to 2019.

She earned her bachelors and master’s degrees from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology with a specialization in Molecular Biophysics. She then earned a doctorate in mathematical and physical sciences with specializations in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Moscow State University.

Yarmola’s long-term research interests encompass biophysics, biochemistry, structural and molecular biology, immunology, biomedical engineering, and nanotechnology. Throughout her career, she has combined mathematical, computational, and experimental approaches in her research.

In the College of Dentistry, Yarmola will study functional amyloid formation by Streptococcus mutans. Streptococcus mutans is a major etiologic agent of human dental caries. S. mutans produce amyloid, and that amyloid that is present in human dental plaque. While amyloid has been extensively studied in the context of pathology, for example Alzheimer’s disease, the concept of functional amyloid is much more recent. In bacteria, amyloid formation may be the rule rather than exception. This is a new, exciting area of research.

Yarmola prior accomplishments include:

  • A new paradigm for regulated actin polymerization in cell motility.
  • Novel experimental techniques based on fluorescence anisotropy.
  • Precise models for DNA and protein movement through gels.
  • Innovative approaches in the low-temperature magnetic circular dichroism spectroscopy.
  • Determination of the effective electrostatic diameter of the DNA double helix – a general characteristic of the electrostatic interactions between DNA segments.