Outstanding ion channel scientists receive honorary awards

BY      |     October 29, 2020

Following Ardem Patapoutian and David Julius, who received the 2020 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience in May 2020, and Anna Greka, who received The Donald W. Seldin Young Investigator Award in July 2020, other ion channel scientists received honorary awards in October 2020.

October 2020 has really become a month of awards for ion channel researchers.

First, UC Berkeley associate professor Polina Lishko has been chosen to receive a prestigious MacArthur “genius” Award 2020 for her innovative work in the field of reproductive biology. Lishko and her team discovered that the steroid hormone progesterone activates sperm-specific calcium channel CatSper (which is essential for sperm hyperactivated motility and fertility) via binding to the serine hydrolase ABHD2. Moreover, they also identified two plant triterpenoids, pristimerin and lupeol, that can act as contraceptive compounds by averting sperm hyperactivation (through CatSper inhibition). These findings have been already licensed by a startup YourChoice Therapeutics developing hormone-free contraceptives. Visit Lishko Lab website here.

Right after Polina Lishko was named a MacArthur fellow, The Biophysical Society announced 2021 award recipients. Among them:

Andrea Meredith, Professor of Physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, will receive the BPS Award in the Biophysics of Health and Disease for her work on BK channels, KCNMA1 mutations and KCNMA1-linked channelopathy. Andrea Meredith has also cofounded the KCNMA1 Channelopathy International Advocacy Foundation (KCIAF) to encourage and promote efforts to find effective treatments for the wide range of symptoms which can be caused by KCNMA1 mutations. Read the interview with Andrea Meredith here.

Randy Stockbridge, Assistant Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan, will receive the Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award for her “pioneering and innovative contributions to our understanding of fundamental paradigms in ion channel and transporter biology”. More specifically, the findings of Randy Stockbridge significantly contributed to our understanding of microbial fluoride channels and guanidinium ion exporters, identified novel microbial vulnerabilities and paved the way for the development of new antimicrobials. Visit Randy Stockbridge Lab website here.

Nieng Yan, Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, will receive the Anatrace Membrane Protein Award for her “seminal contributions to our structural understanding of the molecular mechanisms of membrane protein function and modulation”. Nieng Yan works shed light on the structure/function of multiple membrane proteins, including glucose transporters and voltage-gated sodium and calcium channels, and established the foundation for structure-aided drug development. Read more about Nieng Yan here.

Photo by Ariel on Unsplash

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