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Liliya Yatsunyk

Department Overview

Our laboratory focuses on non-canonical DNA structures, G-quadruplexes, i-motifs, and tandem repeats. Such sequences are found at telomeres and oncogene promoters, among other regions. Small molecule ligands strongly affect fold and stability of non-canonical DNA and may act as anticancer therapeutics. We strive to determine the structural details of DNA and DNA-ligand complexes and understand the reasons behind structural diversity of DNA. Our favorite techniques include X-ray crystallography, UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopies, circular dichroism (CD), fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), gel electrophoresis, and synthetic work.   

If you are interested in working in the Yatsunyk lab:

  • send Liliya an email at lyatsun1 

  • stop by her office in SC 286 or the lab SC 285

Lab News 2023


The lab traveled to the NIH National Cancer Institute in Frederick, MD to visit the laboratory of Jay SchneeklothHarrison Kim, Eric Xing, and Gwen Lam delivered oral presentations. Abdullah Ali ran LCMS experiment on his TrisQ sample at the NIH facility.

The lab had two joint group meetings- one at Haverford and one at Swarthmore, with the laboratory of the associate professor Lou Charkoudian. The students from both groups presented on their research activities over the summer and engaged in constructive discussions.

Congratulations to David Ye, Paul Seth, and Erin Chen- our graduated seniors!

Congratulations to Erin Chen on publishing her paper titled "Crystal structure of a three-tetrad, parallel, K+-stabilized human telomeric G-quadruplex at 1.35 A resolution" in Acta Crystallographica F Journal.

Congratulations to Erin Chen on receiving Ivy and Oak award. The Award is given to the student in the graduating class who is outstanding in scholarship, contributions to community, and leadership. 

Congratulations to Eric Xing on receiving Department First Year Award for outstanding academic achievement in General Chemistry and Organic 1.

Congratulations to Harrison Kim on receiving Stanley Adamson Award. This award was established in memory of Stanley D. Adamson ’65 and is awarded each spring to a well-rounded junior majoring in chemistry or biochemistry, who, in the opinion of the department, gives the most promise of excellence and dedication in the field.

Congratulations to Erin Chen on receiving ACS Award in Physical Chemistry for her excellent performance in P-Chem 1 and P-Chem 2 classes and as a P-Chem alchemist.

Congratulations to David Ye on receiving the Senior RSC Award for Academic Excellence of a Biochemistry Major.

Congratulations to Erin Chen on accepting a position at a particle physics and accelerator laboratory in IL!

Congratulations to David Ye for winning first place at the G4 PhD presentation contest!

The Yatsunyk lab welcomes three new members- Abdullah Ali '25, Gwendolyn Lam '24, and Eric Xing '26!

Lab News 2022

Congratulations to David, Erin, and Kailey for publishing their paper in J. Bioorg. Med. Chem!

The Yatsunyk Lab welcomes Gabriele Travagliante, a PhD student from Catania, Italy, and Maya Newman-Toker, a sophomore research student.

Yatlab attended Middle Atlantic Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society in The College of New Jersey from June 1-4. Liliya, Erin, and David had oral presentations. Kailey, Harrison, and Paul presented posters.

The Yatsunyk Lab welcomes two new members- Harrison Kim and Paul Seth.

Congratulations to Dana, Erin, and Liz on the publication of their recent article titled "The First Crystal Structures of Hybrid and Parallel Four-Tetrad Intramolecular G-Quadruplexes" Nucleic Acids Res., 2022, 50, 2959-2972.


Charlotte Pohl, Kevin Li, Erin Chen, Sara Yun, and David Ye presented at the Sigma Xi poster session at Swarthmore on September 30th and October 1st.

Dana Bessio and Liliya Yatsunyk presented talks at the International Conference on Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines, ICPP-11, which was run virtually from June 28th to July 3rd.

The lab welcomes Kailey Martin, our new research assistant, and Shawn Pfeil, an associate Professor of Physics at West Chester University.

Six students (Kevin Li, Charlotte Pohl, Zahara Martinez, Tamanaa Atrafi, Sara Yun, and David Ye) conducted research in person in the Yatlab over the summer. We have managed to solve the phase problem for iHRAS and THM-RHPS4 projects and collect 2.3 A data for Oligo10-NMM project.

Liliya, Erin, and Kevin gave talks at the ACS Spring 2021 Virtual Meeting and Exposition. Liliya presented "Structure of T. thermophila telomeric DNA alone and with N-methylmesoporphyrin IX, NMM" on April 5th, Erin presented "Elucidating the structure of a four-repeat Satellite III DNA sequence” on April 7th, and Kevin presented "Water networks in G-quadruplexes" on April 14th. 

Dana gave a poster presentation at the meeting, "Biophysical and structural characterization of Tetrahymena thermophila G-Quadruplexes alone and in complex with N-methyl mesoporphyrin IX."

The lab welcomed in the spring new students: Charlotte Pohl, Sara Yun, Tamanaa Atrafi, David Ye, and Zahara Martinez.

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Enjoying beautiful weather and roses

Enjoying beautiful weather and roses: Tamanaa Atrafi '23, David Ye '23, Charlotte Pohl '21, Professor Yatsunyk, Zahara Martinez '23, Sara Yun '23, Kevin Li '22

Yatsunyk lab members cook breakfast

Lab members gather to cook breakfast together: Zahara Martinez '23, Kevin Li '22, Tamanaa Atrafi '23, Sara Yun, '23, David Ye '23, Professor Yatsunyk, Kailey Martin 

Sara Yun '23 and David Ye '23

Sara Yun '23 and David Ye '23 present their research at Sigma Xi poster session.

Kevin Li '22

Kevin Li '22 presents research at Sigma Xi poster session.

Enjoying beautiful weather and roses: Tamanaa Atrafi '23, David Ye '23, Charlotte Pohl '21, Professor Yatsunyk, Zahara Martinez '23, Sara Yun '23, Kevin Li '22

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