Eric C. Niederhoffer

Associate Professor

Eric C. Niederhoffer joined the faculty at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in August 1990 after working at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M University in 1983 and a B.S. in chemistry and a B.A. in history from the University of Rochester in 1979. Dr. Niederhoffer completed four months of teaching and lecturing as a 2000 Fulbright Scholar at Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, Peru. His laboratory research programs ceased in 2001. In 2002, he was appointed Program Coordinator of the Mentored Professional Enrichment Experience (MPEE) for SIU-SOM. He has been Coordinator of Year One Cardiovascular/Respiratory/Renal (CRR) unit and the Year One Biochemistry Coordinator since 2004 and 2008, respectively. He has been serving as a member of the USMLE Step 1 Pharmacology and Biochemistry Test Material Development Committee since 2009, NBME Basic Science Subject Examination Task Force since 2013, USMLE Step 1 Interdisciplinary Review Committee since 2013, NBME Pharmacology and Biochemistry Test Committee since 2013, Association of Biochemistry Course Directors Executive Committee since 2011 (Chair-elect for 2013-2015) and Deputy Editor for Teaching and Learning in Medicine since 2013.

(618) 453-6467

Complete CV (pdf file 147K, docx file 35K)


Scholarly Interests

A primer for writing effective multiple-choice questions (Word, PDF; Powerpoint, PDF) - A presentation for the 2011-12 departmental retreat
Biochemistry animations - Pathways and processes with clinical impact
"Chime Square" - Enhanced on-line presentations of macromolecules (see also
Fulbright 2000 - Courses offered at Universidad Nacional de Trujillo
Making basic sciences clinically relevant: the biochemistry example - A presentation for the 1st Annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning
Medical Sciences Database and Vertical File - Internet-based compilation of previewed review articles for medical students
MBMB 451b - Enzymology and carbohydrate metabolism
MBMB 533 - Advanced biochemistry (metalloproteins)
MBMB570 - Molecular Aspects of Metalloproteins
Organ-Systems-Based Integration of Biochemistry; The Best and Worst Of Times - A presentation for the Medical Biochemistry Education Strategies Workshop
Patient summaries: an educational vehicle towards developing critical thinking and clinical reasoning - A presentation for the Third Annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning
Phosphofructokinase-1 Regulation: Too Much of a Good Theme? - A presentation for the Third International Meeting of the Association of Biochemistry Course Directors
Problem-based learning for medical students (as featured by FORTUNE-Forum of User Organisations training and networking in Europe)
Web Lessons - Primer for amino acids, lipids, nucleic acids, and saccharides
Writing USMLE-style questions for SIU-SOM exams - A presentation for the 1st Annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning


(Please note that I no longer sponsor graduate or undergraduate research students.)

Metallobiology (no research opportunities available)

I have been interested in the role of metal ions in biological systems. My goal has been to understand how metal ions mediate crucial steps in cellular differentiation. The kidney pathogens Proteus mirabilis and Proteus vulgaris have been of interest because they are the most common hospital-acquired infection of complicated urinary tracts (i.e., individuals with advanced age or compromised immune systems). Proteus is an interesting microbe because it swarms over surfaces and invades urothelial cells. Swarming is a developmental process (behavior typical of eucaryotes) that responds to changes in soluble iron concentrations. I had been studying a variety of iron- and dioxygen-regulated genes from Proteus and determining the molecular events important in their expression during liquid culture growth, swarming, and invasion of cells. My work had focused on two specific problem areas, regulation of swarming motility and expression of superoxide dismutase isozymes.


Regulation of Swarming Motility (no research opportunities available)

Proteus swarms over solid surfaces and swims through water-filled channels in the presence of iron and these motilities can be inhibited by heavy metal ions, iron chelators, and specific osmotic agents. One of the methods used by Proteus to facilitate surface locomotion is production of a polysaccharide slime, which acts to reduce surface friction. I had observed that swarming motility is dioxygen dependent while swimming motility depends on respiration. Invasion of urothelial cells, which line the urinary tract, had been modeled in our laboratory with the use of synthetic basement membrane protein matrices. I had observed that under conditions that inhibit swarming cell differentiation there is little colonization of the matrices, although the bacterium is competent in transport through the matrix pores. My interests had been concerned with understanding the molecular function of metal ions in swarmer cell differentiation, colonization and cellular metabolism.

Superoxide Dismutase Expression (no research opportunities available)

Proteus expresses a combination of superoxide dismutase isozymes. P. mirabilis appears to produce two iron-containing and one manganese-containing superoxide dismutase (FeSod1, FeSod2, MnSod) while P. vulgaris appears to produce one iron-containing, one manganese-containing, and one copper,zinc-containing superoxide dismutase (FeSod, MnSod, CuZnSod). Production of the Sod isozymes from growing cells is dependent on both dioxygen and soluble iron concentrations. Heavy metal ions affect Sod production and there is differential expression of Sod during cell differentiation. My interests had been concerned with the molecular interactions that control Sod gene expression, especially during swarmer cell differentiation.

View Chime presentation of the superoxide dismutases from Escherichia coli.

Recent Publications

Niederhoffer, E. C.. 2014. An animation-enhanced presentation for illustrating hormonal and metabolite regulation of metabolic pathways in the context of diabetes. MedEdPORTAL. Available

Sabina, R. L., E. E. McKee, N. Osheroff, T. B. Fulton, D. S. Frnaklin, T. Hogg, K. R. Kearney, S. C. King,, E. C Niederhoffer, S. Normaly, K. Thompson, and M. J. Wimmer. 2013. Teaching biochemistry to students of medicine, pharmacy & dentistry: 4th International Conference of the Association of Biochemistry Course Directors (ABCD), Santa Fe, NM, USA, May 5-9, 2013. Med. Sci. Educ. 23:394-399.

Niederhoffer, E. C. 2001. New insights of the structure, catalytic mechanism, and regulation of expression of the iron superoxide dismutase from Escherichia coli K-12. Revista Medica de Trujillo 5:7-12.

Howell, M. L., E. Alsabbagh, J.-F. Ma, U. A. Ochsner, M. G. Klotz, T. J. Beveridge, K. M. Blumenthal, E. C. Niederhoffer, R. E. Morris, G. E. Dean, M. A. Wani, and D. J. Hassett. 2000. AnkB, a periplasmic ankyrin-like protein in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is required for optimal catalase B (KatB) activity and resistance to hydrogen peroxide. J. Bacteriol., 182:4545-4556.

Dayton, T. M., K. A. Diefenbach, M. L. Fuller, J. Valtos, and E. C. Niederhoffer. 1996. Production of superoxide dismutases from Proteus mirabilis and Proteus vulgaris. BioMetals 9:131-137.

Wilkerson, M. L., and E. C. Niederhoffer. 1995. Swarming characteristics of Proteus mirabilis under anaerobic and aerobic conditions. Anaerobe 1:345-350.

Eickhoff, J., E. Potts, J. Valtos, and E. C. Niederhoffer. 1995. Heavy metal effects on Proteus mirabilis superoxide dismutase production. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 132:271-276.

Rodabough, A., M. S. Foster, and E. C. Niederhoffer. 1995. Plating techniques for extremely thermophilic methanogens, p. 57-60. In F. T. Robb, A. R. Place, K. R. Sowers, H. J. Schreier, S. DasSarma, and E. M. Fleischmann, (eds.), Archaea: a laboratory manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

Foster, M. S., J. N. Carroll, and E. C. Niederhoffer. 1994. Phenylalanine- and tyrosine-dependent production of enterobactin in Escherichia coli. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 117:79-84.

Foster, M. S., A. Rodabough, T. M. Dayton, E. M. Melko, S. S. Szegedi, and E. C. Niederhoffer. 1993. Improved methods for the cultivation of strictly anaerobic, extremely thermophilic methanogens. Biotechniques 16:996-1002.

Foster, M. S., T. S. Conver, A. Rodabough, T. M. Dayton, J. A. Koropchak, and E. C. Niederhoffer. 1993. Speciation and mobilization of toxic heavy metal ions by methanogenic bacteria. Contract ENR-HWR-92-097. Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center, Champaign, IL.


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