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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 

Assistant Professor Joseph Orgel's research interests are concerned with fundamental structural biochemistry problems that have direct links to the understanding and treatment of disease, primarily of the extra cellular matrix of mammals. The principal techniques for study being: X-ray fiber diffraction and crystallography.

The lab also deals with protein folding and aggregation of biological polymers and membrane surface active helices (see the HHELIX server).

Orgel Lab home page.

He has made several significant contributions to the understanding of collagen structure and is an acknowledged leader in the fields of extracellular matrix structure and fiber diffraction. He was awarded an NSF CAREER award: “Molecular Structure of Collagen Type II by Fiber Crystallography” and inducted to the editorial board of the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE in 2007 and becoming responsible for the Biochemistry section in 2008. Recently the Orgel lab has been working to produce in situ visualizations of collagen-ligand interactions at the collagen fibril surface using fiber diffraction and electron microscopy (see recent references below).


  • 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


“In situ D-periodic structure of type II collagen”. Olga Antipova and Joseph P.R.O. Orgel.  Journal of Biological Chemistry. 285, p7087-7096 (2010).

“Molecular and structural mapping of collagen fibril interactions”. Orgel, J.P.R.O. San Antonio, J.D., Antipova, O. Invited review for Connective Tissue Research, 52, p2-17, (2011, cover page article).

“Collagen fibril surface displays a constellation of sites capable of promoting fibril assembly, stability, and hemostasis”. Orgel* Joseph P.R.O., Antipova, O., Sagi, I, Bitler, A., Qiu, D., Wang R, Xu, Y., San Antonio,*, J.D. Connective Tissue Research,  52, p18-24, (2011).

“The Japanese Mutant Aβ (ΛE22-Aβ1-39) Forms Fibrils Instantaneously, without ThT Fluorescence  “Prion-like” Conversion of Wild-Type Aβ1-40 by ΛE22-Aβ1-39”. Adam W. Cloe, Joseph P.R.O. Orgel, Robert Tycko, and Stephen C. Meredith. Biochemistry, 50, p2026-2039, (2011).

“Dinosaur Peptides Suggest Mechanisms of Protein Survival” San Antonio, J.D., Schweitzer, M., Khalluri, R. Orgel, J.P.R.O. PloS ONE. 6.  Article Number: e20381   DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020381, (2011).

“X-ray diffraction from intact tau aggregates in human brain tissue”. Landahl, E., Antipova, O., Bongaarts, A., Barrea, R., Berry, R., Binder, L., Irving, T., Orgel, J., Vana, L., and Rice, S. Nuclear Instruments and Methods (in physics research section a-accelerators spectrometers detectors and associated equipment).  649, p184-187, (2011).

“Non-enzymatic decomposition of collagen fibers by a Biglycan antibody and a plausible mechanism for rheumatoid arthritis”. Olga Antipova and Joseph P.R.O. Orgel. PLoS ONE 7(3): e32241. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032241, (2012).

Joseph P.R.O. Orgel, Aya Eidd, Olga Antipova, Jordi Bella, John Scott. Decorin Core Protein (Decoron) Shape Complements Collagen Fibril Surface Structure and Mediates its Binding. PLoS ONE (2009).

Orgel, Joseph, P.R.O. On the molecular packing of collagen. Acta. Cryst. D65, p1009-1010 (2009).

Robert Tycko, Kimberly L. Sciarretta, Joseph P. R. O. Orgel, and Stephen C. Meredith. Evidence for Novel ß-sheet Structures in Iowa-mutant ß-Amyloid Fibrils. Biochemistry. 48, p6072-6084 (2009).

Shiamalee Perumal, Olga Antipova, Joseph P.R.O. Orgel. Collagen fibril architecture, domain organization and triple-helical conformation govern its proteolysis. PNAS, 105, p2824-2829 (2008).

Sweeney, S.M., Orgel, J.P., Antipova, O., Perumal, S., DiLullo, G., Fertala, A., Turner, K., Ala-Kokko, L., Forlino A., Cabral, W.A., Barnes, A., Marini, J.C., and San Antonio, J.D. Cell and matrix interaction domains on the type I collagen fibril. J. Biol. Chem. 283, p21187-21197 (2008).

Gregory Darnell, Joseph Orgel, Reinhard Paul, and Stephen Meredith. Flanking polyproline sequences inhibit ß-sheet structure in polyglutamine segments by inducing PPII-like helix structure. Journal of Molecular Biology. 374, p688-704 (2007).

Twardowski, T., Fertala, A., Orgel, J.P.R.O., and San Antonio, J.D. Type I collagen and collagen mimetics as angiogenesis promoting superpolymers Invited review for Curr. Pharm. Des. 13, 3608-3621. (2007).

Orgel JP. Surface-active helices in transmembrane proteins. Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2006 Dec;7(6):553-60. Review.

Orgel JP, Irving TC, Miller A, Wess TJ. Microfibrillar structure of type I collagen in situ. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jun 13;103(24):9001-5.

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 Sep 27;44(38):12681-9.

Editorial Boards 

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

Professional Societies 

  • Current Chair of the American Crystallographic Associations
  • Significant Interest Group for Fiber Diffraction