Edward P. O'Brien

Edward P. O'Brien

Main Content

  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry and of the Institute for CyberScience
402 Chemistry Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 867-5100

Mailing Address:
104 Chemistry Building


  1. Post-doc, University of Cambridge, 2013
  2. Ph.D. Chemical Physics, University of Maryland College Park, 2008
  3. B.S. Biochemistry, University of the Sciences, 2002

Honors and Awards:

  1. National Institutes of Health R35 MIRA (2017-2022)
  2. Priestly Undergraduate Teaching Award (2016)
  3. National Science Foundation - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft CAREER Supplement (2016-2019)
  4. National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2016-2021)
  5. Elected Program Chair, 60th Biophysical Society National Meeting, "Biopolymers In Vivo" subgroup (2016)
  6. Human Frontier's Science Program Grant Recipient (2015-2018)
  7. Biotechnology and Biology Sciences Research Council (UK) David Phillips Fellowship (2013) – Declined
  8. The Royal Society (UK) University Research Fellowship (2013) – Declined
  9. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK) Grant recipient (2012-2013)
  10. National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-2012)
  11. National Science Foundation EAPSI Fellow (2007)
  12. National Institutes of Health GPP Biophysics Fellow (2003-2008)

Selected Publications:

A. K. Sharma and E. P. O’Brien*. “Non-equilibrium coupling of protein structure and function to translation dynamics.” Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol., 2017.

A. K. Sharma and E. P. O’Brien*. “Increasing Protein Production Rates Can Decrease the Rate at Which Functional Protein Is Produced and Their Steady-State Levels.” J. Phys. Chem. B, 2017. 121(28), 6775-6784.

K. Döring, N. Ahmed, T. Riemer, H.G. Suresh, Y. Vainshtein, M. Habich, J. Riemer, M. P. Mayer, E. P. O’Brien, G. Kramer and B. Bukau.  “Profiling of Ssb interactions with nascent proteins reveals principles of Hsp70 assisted co-translational folding”. Cell, 2017. 170(2), 298-311.e20.

F. Trovato and E.P. O'Brien. "Fast protein translation can promote co- and posttranslational folding of misfolding-prone proteins" Biophys. J., 2017. 112(9), 1807-1819.

F. Trovato and E. P. O’Brien. “Insights into co-translational nascent protein behavior from computer simulations” Annu. Rev. Biophys., 2016. 45, 345-371.

D. A. Nissley and E. P. O’Brien. “Altered co-translational processing plays a role in Huntington’s pathogenesis — A hypothesis” Front. Mol. Neurosci., 2016. 9:54.

D. A. Nissley, A. K. Sharma, N. Ahmed, U. Friedrich, G. Kramer, B. Bukau and E. P. O’Brien. “Accurate prediction of cellular co-translational folding indicates proteins can switch from post- to co-translational folding” Nat. Commun., 2016. 7, 10341.

A. K. Sharma, B. Bukau, E. P. O’Brien. “Physical origins of codon positions that strongly influence cotranslational folding: A framework for controlling nascent-protein folding.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016. 138(4), 1180-1195.

O. B. Nilsson, R. Hedman, J. Marino, S. Wickles, L. Bischoff, M. Johansson, A. Muller-Lucks, F. Trovato, J. D. Puglisi,
E. P. O’Brien, R. Beckmann and G. von Heijne. “Co-translational protein folding inside the ribosome exit tunnel” Cell Rep., 2015. 12, 1533-1540

L. Caniparolli and E. P. O’Brien. "Modeling the effect of codon translation rates on co-translational protein folding mechanisms of arbitrary complexity" J. Chem. Phys., 2015. 142, 145102.

D. Nissley and E. P. O'Brien. "Timing is everything: Unifying codon translation rates and nascent proteome behavior" J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014. 136, 17892-17898.

E. P. O'Brien
, P. Ciryam, M. Vendruscolo and C. M. Dobson. "Understanding the influence of codon translation rates on cotranslational protein folding" Acc. Chem. Res., 2014. 47, 1536-1544.

E. P. O'Brien
, M. Vendruscolo and C. M. Dobson. "Kinetic modeling indicates that fast translating codons can coordinate cotranslational protein folding by avoiding misfolded intermediates" Nature Communications, 2014. 5, 2988.

P. Ciryam, R. I. Morimoto, M. Vendruscolo, C. M. Dobson and E. P. O’Brien. “In vivo translation rates can substantially delay the cotranslational folding of the E. coli cytosolic proteome” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 2013. 110, E132-E140.

D. Thirumalai, Z. Liu, E. P. O’Brien and G. Reddy. “Protein folding: From theory to practice” Curr. Opin. Struc. Biol., 2013. 23, 22-29.

E. P. O’Brien, J. Christodoulou, M. Vendruscolo and C. M. Dobson. “Trigger factor slows co-translational folding through kinetic trapping while sterically protecting the nascent chain from aberrant cytosolic interactions” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2012. 134, 10920-10932.

E. P. O’Brien, M. Vendruscolo and C. M. Dobson. “Prediction of variable translation rate effects on co-translational folding” Nature Communications, 2012. 3, 868.

Research Interests:


Theory and computation of molecular and cellular processes

Computational / Theoretical

Theory and computation of molecular and cellular processes


Theory and computation of molecular and cellular processes