DeGrado receives Protein Society’s Stein and Moore Award

William DeGrado, PhD, faculty member in the School’s Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, has been named the 2015 recipient of The Protein Society’s Stein and Moore Award.

The award is given annually by the international society “to recognize eminent leaders in protein science who have made sustained high-impact research contributions to the field.”

His impact on the field of protein science can hardly be overestimated.

—The Protein Society

In announcing the award, which will be conferred at the society’s annual symposium in July in Barcelona, Spain, the organization noted: “DeGrado’s bold body of work spanning decades has taught us that proteins can be rationally designed in a staged modular manner based on simple chemical and conformational principles…

“His pioneering work has shown that simple chemical principles can be rationally applied to highly complex systems to both understand them and create new materials and potential therapeutics. His impact on the field of protein science can hardly be overestimated.”

DeGrado began his career with DuPont Central Research, rising to senior director at DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co, before becoming a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He joined the UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty in 2011.

More about Degrado’s work in protein engineering

William DeGrado’s research has advanced the rational engineering of protein molecules—the gene-generated chains of amino acids that fold into complex three-dimensional shapes to carry out the activities of life in our cells.

DeGrado has pioneered in designing protein molecules from scratch (de novo design), molecules that can fold into functional structures both in solution and spanning cell membranes. His work applies fundamental biophysical principles translated into computational algorithms to select amino acid sequences. These sequences then fold into structures to achieve specific chemical and biological properties, such as catalysis, ligand/co-factor binding, and the transport of other molecules and ions across membranes.

Such designed proteins allow scientists to experimentally analyze how proteins fold, how structure generates function, and whether their knowledge is sufficiently accurate and advanced to synthesize versions that closely mimic nature. These engineered molecules could also potentially be used to treat disease.

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the American West. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.