Christopher Johnson

Image of Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson

Assistant Professor

B.S. Chemistry, State University of New York, Fredonia, 2005
M.S. Biochemistry, Georgia State Univeristy, 2008
Ph.D. Chemistry, Georgia State University, 2012


Hand Lab 2238


THE JOHNSON LABORATORY: From Atoms to Hearts to Health (AH2)

We study atoms to understand hearts and improve human health.







Christopher N. Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor / Scientist

IMG_0788.jpegDr. Johnson is a structural biologist that utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach to understand how calcium modifies the function of proteins in excitable cells such as ion channels. Working at the interface of science and medicine his work combines structural biology, biophysics and electrophysiology to understand how the intra cellular calcium sensing protein “Calmodulin” senses changes in calcium concentration and modifies protein-protein interactions. By developing a detailed understanding of structure (NMR), function (whole cell patch clamp), and timing (stopped-flow) we seek to: (1) understand mechanisms that govern physiology and genetically driven disease, (2) develop small molecule probes that test our models and (3) explore novel strategies for treating excitable cell diseases.

Fun Fact: Enjoys working on cars. Drives an antique Jeep.
Hobbies: cycling

Ryan B. Williams, Graduate Student Scientist

IMG_3073.jpegI’m from Madison Mississippi and graduated from Belhaven University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. I’m currently wrapping up my master’s degree. After graduation this spring I will continue on with the Johnson Lab for my Ph.D. My training is focused on the biophysics (NMR spectroscopy and ITC) of protein-protein interactions and the effects of disease associated mutations. My long-term career goals are to complete my Ph.D. and attend medical school so I can work at the interface of science and medicine.

Fun fact: Loves horror films.
Hobbies: movies

Torien M. Beard, Joint-Graduate Student Scientist

Torien BeardI’m from Augusta Georgia and graduated from Valdosta State University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. I’m currently working on my M.S. at the interface of the Gwaltney and Johnson laboratories. My research efforts are focused on molecular modeling of small molecule interactions with cardiac ion channels. My long term goal is leverage my research skills with a pharacuetical background for developing molecules that have high specificity and high affinity for proteins of interest.

Fun fact: Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Hobbies: Fitness, basketball, and video games

Taylor Agee, Graduate Student Scientist

Taylor AgeeOriginally from Huntsville Alabama, I’m in my second year of the Ph.D. program in the Johnson lab at Mississippi State University. My training is focused on CRISPR editing and working with pluripotent stem-cells with a goal of differentiating them into cardiomyocytes. My long-term goals are to complete my Ph.D. and work in a medical research field that has translational implications.

Fun fact: Member of the MSU dance team.
Hobbies: Running

Rita Gyawu , Graduate Student Scientist

Rita FosuaaI am from Kumasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana and have completed a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). I am part of the Johnson lab for my graduate studies at Mississippi State University. My research uses both solution NMR spectroscopy and whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology to understand how different ion channelsfrom different parts of the body respond to changes to calcium concentration.  In 10 years, I’d like to be a research scientist in an academic lab or private company. I would like to work in the medical or healthcare industry where I can drive change and make an impact.

Fun fact: Loves to sing in the shower.
Hobbies: Reading, dancing and listen to music.

Md Nure Alam Afsar, Graduate Student Scientist

Md Nure Alam AfsarI am originally from Bangladesh. Following completion of my bachelors and master’s degrees (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) at The University of Dhaka I obtained 5 years of research experience at The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research. ICDDR, is an international health research organization dedicated to saving lives through research and treatment. In Jan of 2021 I have relocated to Mississippi State University to enhance my scientific skills. I am currently developing my skills at isolating cardiomyocytes and measuring calcium as part of the Johnson laboratory. My long-term dream is to lead a structural biology research team within a pharmaceutical or biotech company.

Fun fact: Loves Cricket.
Hobbies: Hiking and traveling


Bailey Herring, Joint-Graduate Student Scientist

I am originally from Covington, Louisiana. After completing my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, I am pursuing my Ph.D. through research that connects the Johnson and Gwaltney laboratoies.  My studies focus on physical chemistry and structural biology to understand the function of ion channels in the heart. In the Long term, I would like to run my own research lab in an academic setting.

Fun Fact: I have a 2-year old service dog named Maurice.
Hobbies: Watching horror films, crafting, playing video games, and traveling


Garrett Knotts, Undergraduate Student Scientist


Kelsei Elmoore, Undergraduate Student Scientist


Luke Losordo, Undergraduate Student Scientist



Laboratory Alum

Nolan Binion, 2022 Undergraduate Summer Researcher


Dr. Johnson’s office is currently being renovated with glass walls and sliding doors so it can serve as a data analysis room for his team of scientists.

The NMR Center at Mississippi State University is equipped with 600MHz (cryo-probe), 500MHz (sample jet) and 300MHz instruments. High field instruments (800MHz and 900MHz) are available for use through Dr. Johnson’s adjunct faculty appointment at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville TN.

MSU is the recent recipient of a National Science Foundation Major Reseach Initative award for an 800 MHz NMR equipped with both solution (cryo-probe) and solid phase capabilities. Installation planned for Summer of 2023.


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