Tom Tullius conducts research in genomics, structural biology, and biophysical chemistry. In addition to his faculty appointment in Chemistry, he is Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Experimental Therapeutics at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and he is a member of the Editorial Board of the open access journal PeerJ. Professor Tullius is Director of the Boston University Bioinformatics Program.


The Tullius Group introduced hydroxyl radical footprinting, which is widely used for the structural study of DNA, DNA-protein complexes, and RNA. They investigate the connection between structural properties of DNA and genomics. As part of this work, the Tullius Group and their NIH collaborator reported in Science that evolutionary selection works on DNA shape. Human genome studies in the Tullius Lab were initiated with funding from the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) Pilot Project, which was organized by the National Human Genome Research Institute of the NIH to discover functional elements in the human genome.

Current projects in the Tullius Lab include:

  • A Chemical Map of DNA Shape – It is now known that many transcription factor proteins exploit DNA minor groove shape for recognition of their binding sites. The Tullius Lab is using next-generation DNA sequencing and the hydroxyl radical cleavage experiment to map the shape of DNA at single nucleotide resolution for an entire genome, to experimentally connect DNA structure with transcription factor binding.
  • Chemical Probing of RNA Tertiary Structure in a Transcriptome at Single-Atom Resolution – A second project in the Tullius Lab, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on developing a high-throughput version of the hydroxyl radical cleavage experiment to map RNA tertiary structure transcriptome-wide. The goal of this work is the development of a chemical probe of RNA structure of unprecedented scope and resolution.

Tullius Group Website


Techniques & Resources

  • ORChID – A database of experimentally determined hydroxyl radical cleavage patterns of naked DNA molecules, and an algorithm to predict the cleavage pattern of any DNA sequence
  • ORChID in the UCSC Genome Browser – ORChID values predicted for the human genome. The data is viewable and available for download from the UCSC genome browser
  • ORChiD2 in the GBshape genome browser databaseGBshape is a webserver that compiles a wide variety of DNA structural annotations at single-nucleotide resolution for the genomes of 94 organisms
  • Chai regions in the UCSC Genome Browser – Chai is a structure-informed evolutionary sequence constraint detection algorithm. Chai-identified regions are available from the UCSC genome browser

What’s Next for Graduates of the Tullius Group?

The research opportunities provided by the Tullius Laboratory have positioned its alumni to pursue chemistry/bioinformatics careers at national laboratories, in academia, and in industry. They have the opportunity to collaborate with scientists at the National Institutes of Health and other Universities and have access to and training on the most advanced computational resources. Recent graduates include:

  • Dr. Stephen Parker is Associate Professor at the University of Michigan
  • Dr. Jason Greenbaum is Director, Bioinformatics, at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology