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Joseph Orgel

Joseph Orgel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology and Biomedical Engineering
Associate Director of BioCAT






132 Technology Park Building


B.Sc. (Hons) University of Stirling
Ph.D. University of Stirling

Research & Accomplishments 

Associate Professor Joseph Orgel is a British American Scientist based at the Illinois Institute of Technology with past and present appointments in Biology, Physics and Biomedical Engineering and Applied Health Sciences at UIC as visiting faculty. His research interests are concerned with fundamental structural biochemistry problems that have direct links to the understanding and treatment of disease. Using unique techniques developed by Orgel, his group has been able to visualize the molecular organization of connective and neurological tissues to a resolution of less than one billionth of a meter. Joseph Orgel leads investigations of brain pathological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Traumatic Brain Injury in collaboration with the US Army and connective tissue conditions including heart disease and arthritis, at the National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Research Resource, BioCAT, as Associate Director. An awardee of the United States National Science Foundation's CAREER award, he has been Biochemistry Section Editor of the Public Library of Science Journal, PloS ONE since 2008 and joined the board of directors of the National Museum of Health and Medicine (Chicago) in December of 2012.


  • Extracellular matrix biology and collagen structure, protein structure, macromolecular and fiber crystallography
  • The Orgel lab specializes in research into the extra-cellular matrix (ECM) function and organization at the molecular level, amyloid structure and polymerization and membrane proteins. It is a multi-disciplinary team composed of undergraduates, postgraduates, postdocs and the PI using a variety of biochemical, biophysical and computational techniques that include (but are not limited to) X-ray fiber diffraction, single crystal crystallography, micro-diffraction, circular dichroism, electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, molecular modeling, bioinformatics peptide synthesis and fibril polymerization and association studies.


  • Collagen and ECM structure
  • X-ray diffraction and crystallography


  • CAREER (NSF) awardee National Science Foundation 2007
  • Deans Excellence Award for Research, College of Science and Letters, IIT, 2006


  • 2016 Varma S, Orgel JP, Schieber JD. Nanomechanics of Type I Collagen. Biophysical journal. 111(1):50-6. PMID: 27410733, PMCID: PMC4945622
  • 2016 Dutov P, Antipova O, Varma S, Orgel JP, Schieber JD. Measurement of Elastic Modulus of Collagen Type I Single Fiber. PloS one. 11(1):e0145711. PMID: 26800120, PMCID: PMC4723153
  • 2015 Varma S, Botlani M, Hammond JR, Scott HL, Orgel JP, Schieber JD. Effect of intrinsic and extrinsic factors on the simulated D-band length of type I collagen. Proteins. 2015; 83(10):1800-12. PMID: 26214145
  • 2015 Kim T, Sridharan I, Zhu B, Orgel J, Wang R. Effect of CNT on collagen fiber structure, stiffness assembly kinetics and stem cell differentiation. Materials science & engineering. C, Materials for biological applications. 49:281-9. PMID: 25686951
  • 2014 Barrea RA, Antipova O, Gore D, Heurich R, Vukonich M, Kujala NG, Irving TC, Orgel JP. X-ray micro-diffraction studies on biological samples at the BioCAT Beamline 18-ID at the Advanced Photon Source. Journal of synchrotron radiation. 21(Pt 5):1200-5. PMID: 25178013, PMCID: PMC4151685
  • 2014 Zeltz C, Orgel J, Gullberg D. Molecular composition and function of integrin-based collagen glues-introducing COLINBRIs. Biochimica et biophysica acta. 1840(8):2533-48. PMID: 24361615
  • 2014 Orgel JP, Persikov AV, Antipova O. Variation in the helical structure of native collagen. PloS one. 9(2):e89519. PMID: 24586843, PMCID: PMC3933592
  • 2014 Orgel JP, Irving TC. Advances in Fiber Diffraction of Macromolecular Assembles. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. 1-26.
  • 2012 Sampath S, Isdebski T, Jenkins JE, Ayon JV, Henning RW, Orgel JP, Antipoa O, Yarger JL. X-ray diffraction study of nanocrystalline and amorphous structure within major and minor ampullate dragline spider silks. Soft matter. 8(25):6713-6722. NIHMSID: NIHMS380877 PMID: 23569461, PMCID: PMC3617558
  • 2012 Bertassoni LE, Orgel JP, Antipova O, Swain MV. The dentin organic matrix -limitations of restorative dentistry hidden on the nanometer scale. Acta biomaterialia. 8(7):2419-33. PMID: 22414619, PMCID: PMC3473357
  • 2012 Antipova O, Orgel JP. Non-enzymatic decomposition of collagen fibers by a biglycan antibody and a plausible mechanism for rheumatoid arthritis. PloS one. 7(3):e32241. PMID: 22427827, PMCID: PMC3302792
  • 2011 Landahl EC, Antipova O, Bongaarts A, Barrea R, Berry R, Binder LI, Irving T, Orgel J, Vana L, Rice SE. X-ray diffraction from intact tau aggregates in human brain tissue. Nuclear instruments & methods in physics research. Section A, Accelerators, spectrometers, detectors and associated equipment. 649(1):184-187. NIHMSID: NIHMS263705 PMID: 21876609, PMCID: PMC3162212
  • 2011 Cloe AL, Orgel JP, Sachleben JR, Tycko R, Meredith SC. The Japanese mutant Aβ (ΔE22-Aβ(1-39)) forms fibrils instantaneously, with low-thioflavin T fluorescence: seeding of wild-type Aβ(1-40) into atypical fibrils by ΔE22-Aβ(1-39). Biochemistry. 50(12):2026-39. NIHMSID: NIHMS430818 PMID: 21291268, PMCID: PMC3631511
  • 2011 Orgel JP, San Antonio JD, Antipova O. Molecular and structural mapping of collagen fibril interactions. Connective tissue research. 52(1):2-17. PMID: 21182410
  • 2011 Orgel JP, Antipova O, Sagi I, Bitler A, Qiu D, Wang R, Xu Y, San Antonio JD. Collagen fibril surface displays a constellation of sites capable of promoting fibril assembly, stability, and hemostasis. Connective tissue research. 52(1):18-24. NIHMSID: NIHMS342341 PMID: 21117898, PMCID: PMC3244825
  • 2011 San Antonio JD, Schweitzer MH, Jensen ST, Kalluri R, Buckley M, Orgel JP. Dinosaur peptides suggest mechanisms of protein survival. PloS one. 6(6):e20381. PMID: 21687667, PMCID: PMC3110760
  • 2010 Antipova O, Orgel JP. In situ D-periodic molecular structure of type II collagen. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2010; 285(10):7087-96. PMID: 20056598, PMCID: PMC2844158
  • 2009 Orgel JP, Eid A, Antipova O, Bella J, Scott JE. Decorin core protein (decoron) shape complements collagen fibril surface structure and mediates its binding. PloS one. 4(9):e7028. PMID: 19753304, PMCID: PMC2737631
  • 2009 Tycko R, Sciarretta KL, Orgel JP, Meredith SC. Evidence for novel beta-sheet structures in Iowa mutant beta-amyloid fibrils. Biochemistry. 48(26):6072-84. NIHMSID: NIHMS153357 PMID: 19358576, PMCID: PMC2910621
  • 2009 Orgel JP. On the molecular packing of collagen. Acta. Cryst. D65:1009-1010.
  • 2008 Sweeney SM, Orgel JP, Fertala A, McAuliffe JD, Turner KR, Di Lullo GA, Chen S, Antipova O, Perumal S, Ala-Kokko L, Forlino A, Cabral WA, Barnes AM, Marini JC, San Antonio JD. Candidate cell and matrix interaction domains on the collagen fibril, the predominant protein of vertebrates. The Journal of biological chemistry. 283(30):21187-97. PMID: 18487200, PMCID: PMC2475701
  • 2008 Perumal S, Antipova O, Orgel JP. Collagen fibril architecture, domain organization, and triple-helical conformation govern its proteolysis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105(8):2824-9. PMID: 18287018, PMCID: PMC2268544
  • 2007 Darnell G, Orgel JP, Pahl R, Meredith SC. Flanking polyproline sequences inhibit beta-sheet structure in polyglutamine segments by inducing PPII-like helix structure. Journal of molecular biology. 374(3):688-704. PMID: 17945257
  • 2007 Twardowski T, Fertala A, Orgel JP, San Antonio JD. Type I collagen and collagen mimetics as angiogenesis promoting superpolymers. Current pharmaceutical design. 13(35):3608-21. PMID: 18220798
  • 2006 Orgel JP. Surface-active helices in transmembrane proteins. Current protein & peptide science. 7(6):553-60. PMID: 17168788
  • 2006 Orgel JP, Irving TC, Miller A, Wess TJ. Microfibrillar structure of type I collagen in situ. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 103(24):9001-5. PMID: 16751282, PMCID: PMC1473175
  • 2005 Lazar KL, Miller-Auer H, Getz GS, Orgel JP, Meredith SC. Helix-turn-helix peptides that form alpha-helical fibrils: turn sequences drive fibril structure. Biochemistry. 2005; 44(38):12681-9. PMID: 16171382
  • 2005 Barrea R, Gore D, Kondrashkina E, Weng T, Heurich R, Vukonich M, Orgel J, Davidson M, Collingwood J, Mikhaylova A, Irving T. The BioCAT Microprobe for X-ray Fluorescence Imaging, MicroXAFS and Microdiffraction Studies on Biological Samples. Proc. 8th Int. Conf. X-ray Microscopy IPAP Conf. 7:230-232.
  • 2004 Orgel JP. Sequence context and modified hydrophobic moment plots help identify 'horizontal' surface helices in transmembrane protein structure prediction. Journal of structural biology. 148(1):51-65. PMID: 15363787
  • 2004 Rasgado-Flores H, Taylor SR, Pena-Rasgado C, Orgel J, Gonzalez-Serratos H. Muscle contraction and cell volume changes in skeletal muscle. Journal of muscle research and cell motility. 25(8):592-5. PMID: 16118848
  • 2003 Laing J, Orgel J, Dubochet J, Al-Amoudi A, Wess T, Cameron G, Laurie C. X-ray diffraction of rat tail tendon at ambient and cryo-cooled temperatures - a comparison” Fibre Diffraction Review. 11:119-123.
  • 2002 Orgel J, Miller A, Irving T, Wess T. Recent insights into the three-dimensional molecular packing structure of native type I collagen. Fibre Diffraction Review. 10:40-50.
  • 2001 Orgel JP, Miller A, Irving TC, Fischetti RF, Hammersley AP, Wess TJ. The in situ supermolecular structure of type I collagen. Structure. 9(11):1061-9. PMID: 11709170
  • 2000 Orgel JP, Wess TJ, Miller A. The in situ conformation and axial location of the intermolecular cross-linked non-helical telopeptides of type I collagen. Structure. 8(2):137-42. PMID: 10673433
  • 2000 Wess TJ, Orgel JP. Changes in collagen structure: drying, dehydrothermal treatment and relation to long term deterioration. Thermochimica Acta. 365:119-128.
  • 2000 Wess TJ, Alberts I, Cameron G, Laurie C, Orgel J, Hiller J, Nielsen-Marsh C, Balthazar V, Drakopoulos M, Pollard M, Collins M. Small angle X-ray scattering reveals; changes of bone mineral habit and size in archaeological bone samples Fibre Diffraction Review. 9:36-43.
  • 1999 Miller A, Orgel J, Wess T. X-ray studies on biological fibres. Fibre Diffraction Review. 8:27-31.

Editorial Boards 

  • PLoS ONE, Editorial Board member since 2007
  • PLoS ONE, Sector Editor, Biochemistry since 2008

Professional Societies