Faculty Profile

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Ben McFarland

Professor of Biochemistry; Chair of Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Email: bjm@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2749
Office: Eaton 103


Education: Dual BS, University of Florida, 1996; PhD, University of Washington, 2001. At SPU since 2003.

Ben McFarland came to Seattle Pacific after studying Biomolecular Structure and Design at the University of Washington and completing a post-doctoral fellowship in Structural Immunology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. His research has studied the binding of MHC molecules to peptides and MIC-A proteins to NKG2D immunoreceptors.

Dr. McFarland’s teaching and research focus on the structural aspects of protein biochemistry and design. His team of undergraduate students has accomplished protein production and design in the teaching and research labs at SPU, and have made new molecules with enhanced binding functions. This research has been funded by the NIH and NSF.

Dr. McFarland writes about science for general audiences, including the book A World from Dust (Oxford University Press) and related book chapters. He is also a member of the BioLogos Voices speakers bureau.


Books Authored

A World From Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life. Published March 2016 by Oxford University Press.

Selected Publications

  • Gavlovsky, P.J., P. Tonnerre, N. Gérard, S. Nedellec, A.W. Daman, B.J. McFarland, and B. Charreau, 2016, “Alternative Splice Transcripts for MHC Class I-Like MICA Encode Novel NKG2D Ligands with Agonist or Antagonist Function.” Journal of Immunology. 197 (3), 736-746.
  • Henager, S.H., M.A. Hale, N.J. Maurice, E.C. Dunnington, C.J. Swanson, M.J. Peterson, J.J. Ban, D.J. Culpepper, L.D. Davies, L.K. Sanders, and B.J. McFarland, 2012, “For the Record: Combining different design strategies for rational affinity maturation of the MICA-NKG2D interface.” Protein Science, 21 (9), 1396-1402.
  • “The Trees of Life.” Chapter 16 in Faith Seeking Understanding: Essays in Memory of Paul Brand and Ralph D. Winter, edited by David Marshall. William Carey Library (Pasadena, CA), 2012.
  • Culpepper, D.J., M.K. Maddox, A.B. Caldwell and B.J. McFarland, 2011, “Systematic mutation and thermodynamic analysis of central tyrosine pairs in polyspecific NKG2D receptor interactions.” Molecular Immunology, 48 (4): 516-523.
  • Lengyel, C.S.E., L. Willis, P. Mann, T. Kortemme, D. Baker, R.K. Strong, and B.J. McFarland, 2007, “Mutations designed to destabilize the receptor-bound conformation increase MICA-NKG2D association rate and affinity.” J. Biol. Chem. 282 (42): 30658-30666.

View Dr. McFarland’s CV (PDF) for more information.

Personal links

Dr. McFarland’s website

Why I Teach at SPU

Ben McFarland, Professor of Biochemistry; Chair of Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

“I teach at SPU because here I can teach about biochemistry in the morning, make new proteins with the same students in the afternoon, and in between, exchange ideas with my colleagues in departments from art to physics to theology. Our common commitment as faculty makes SPU a community where the practical and the theoretical meet in surprising new ways as we explore God’s creation together.”

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