Staff Collaborate Conference Room

W. Karol Subczynski, PhD, DSc

Karol Subczynski

W. Karol Subczynski, PhD, DSc



  • Biophysics
    MFRC 2008

Contact Information


DSc, Natural Sciences with specialization in Biophysics, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, 1984
PhD, Physico-Mathematical Sciences with specialization in Biophysics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, USSR, 1976
MSc, Physics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, USSR, 1969


Shortly after completing my training, I joined the Biophysics Department, Institute of Molecular Biology, at Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, as a teaching/research assistant. I joined the faculty in 1977; in 1995, the President of Poland awarded me the title of Professor of Biophysics. From 1988–1991, I was Chair of the Biophysics Department, and from 1992–2000, I was Head of the Laboratory of Structure and Dynamics of Biological Membranes. I first visited Milwaukee in 1980; since then, I have been at the National Biomedical EPR Center about 50% of the time. In 2000, I emigrated to the United States and joined the MCW faculty as an Assistant Professor of Biophysics; in 2002, I became an Associate Professor of Biophysics; and, in 2010, I became a Professor of Biophysics.

I have directed 14 graduate students pursuing their MSc degrees and supervised five students pursuing their PhD degrees.

I have coauthored more than 150 original papers, reviews, and book chapters.

Research Interests

My research interests focus on these areas:

  • Development of spin-label oximetry methods and their application to study oxygen consumption and evolution in different biological and biochemical systems, as well as oxygen transport within and across model and biological membranes.
  • Physical properties of model lipid bilayer membranes and the lipid bilayer portion of biological membranes. This research is focused on better understanding the function of biological membranes. Special focus is given to the formation of domains in the lipid bilayer portion of model and biological membranes induced by the presence of cholesterol, macular carotenoids, and integral membrane proteins.
  • Formation of raft domains in model and biological membranes. The long-term objective of this research is to better understand the molecular mechanisms by which rafts form and are maintained and disintegrated in biological membranes.
  • Formation of pure cholesterol domains surrounded by the phospholipid bilayer saturated with cholesterol. These are intriguing domains present in membranes oversaturated with cholesterol. Their functions in biological membranes have not yet been investigated in detail. It seems that these domains help to maintain lens fiber cell plasma membrane and lens homeostasis.
  • Discrimination of lipid domains induced by integral membrane proteins and evaluation of the amounts of phospholipids and cholesterol in these domains.
  • Interaction of macular carotenoids with lipid bilayer membranes to better understand function of these carotenoids in the protection of eye retina against age-related macular degeneration.

Research Projects

  • Lipid Rafts in Eye Lens: Discrimination by Pulse EPR is an R01 award by the National Eye Institute (December 1, 2004–November 30, 2009).
  • Cholesterol Crystalline Domain Function in Eye Lens: EPR Spin-Labeling Studies is an R01 award by the National Eye Institute (December 1, 2009–May 31, 2015).
  • Is Cholesterol Crystalline Domain a Barrier to Oxygen Transport? is a grant award by the NIH Fogarty International Center (February 1, 2009–December 31, 2012).
  • Lipid Domains in Lens Membranes of a Single Eye: EPR Spin-Labeling Studies is an R01 award by the National Eye Institute (June 1, 2015–May 31, 2020).

Lab Members
Natalia Stein, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Akihiro Kusumi, Institute for Frontier Medical Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Dr. Marta Pasenkiewicz-Gierula, Biophysics Department, Institute of Molecular Biology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Dr. Marija Raguz, Department of Medical Physics and Biophysics, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia
Dr. Justyna Widomska, Department of Biophysics, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
Dr. Alexander N. Tikhonov, Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Physics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

Book Chapters

Subczynski W.K., Widomska J., Mainali L. Factors Determining the Oxygen Permeability of Biological Membranes: Oxygen Transport Across Eye Lens Fiber-Cell Plasma Membranes, in: Oxygen Transport to Tissue XXXIX, Halpern H., LaManna J., Harrison D., Epel B., Eds. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol 977. (Springer, Cham), 2017, pp. 27-34.

Subczynski WK, Wisniewska A, Widomska J. Xanthophyll–Membrane Interactions: Implications for Age-Related Macular Degeneration, in: Carotenoids and Retinal Disease, Landrum JT and Nolan J, Eds. (CRC Press), 2014, pp. 203-221.