Shining light on membrane proteins

European Biophysics Journal, Aug 2017

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Shining light on membrane proteins

Shining light on membrane proteins Robert W. Janes Frances Separovic mid-1980s. It is only in the twenty-first century that this extension to CD has begun to demonstrate its true potential and Bonnie has clearly been a major figure behind its development. In first performing “proof of principle” experiments, then taking these to the edge in obtaining research data on membrane protein studies, particularly of the voltage-gated sodium channel, Bonnie received both the 2009 Interdisciplinary Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry and the 2010 AstraZeneca Award from the Biochemical Society (UK) “in recognition of outstanding work leading to the development of a new method in science”. Bonnie is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Biology (UK), IUPAC, and also the Royal Society of Chemistry; each for a number of years. Now, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of biophysics, Bonnie has been made an Honorary Member of the British Biophysical Society (2016), and this year has been elected a Fellow of the Biophysical Society (USA). It is fitting that, with so many accolades recognising her distinguished career to date, Bonnie has this Special Issue of the European Biophysical Journal dedicated to her; and we know that those who have contributed both to this and to the Symposium last year owe a huge debt of gratitude for being able to have collaborated with her on many significant research projects. We recognize that this is certainly not the retirement of Professor Bonnie Ann Wallace (who has been most effusive in making us aware that this will not be happening in the foreseeable future) and we wish her continued success in her current and future research to come. - It is with great pleasure that we write the preface to this Special Issue commemorating the career to date of Professor Bonnie Ann Wallace. This issue has come about as a consequence of a symposium, entitled “Shining Light on Membrane Proteins”, suggested by her long-standing senior postdoc, Lee Whitmore, and held on 10th August 2016 at Birkbeck College, London (UK). This was a celebration of her 65th birthday and to honour Bonnie in recognising her far-reaching accomplishments that she has instigated in her distinguished career up to this present time. It was through her Doctorate studies at Yale in Molecular Biophysics and Chemistry using electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques that Bonnie found her major science interest: studying membrane proteins. From the outset of her science career, Bonnie has been lauded with many awards of distinction. As a Jane Coffin Childs fellowship awardee, she undertook postdoc studies at Harvard and then the LMB in Cambridge with Dr. Richard Henderson. She received an Irma T. Hirschl award to continue her research, followed by becoming the first recipient of the Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award, considered one of the top biophysics awards in the USA. Bonnie was named one of the top ten “Hot Young Scientists” by Fortune Magazine, making an early significant mark in her ion channel studies with gramicidin. She also began to cultivate the other main strength by which she is known world-wide, that of developing the technique of circular dichroism (CD) towards the characterisation of membrane proteins, something that she pioneered when solving many of the inherent problems associated with studying such systems using this method. Bonnie was one of the first scientists to realise the potential that synchrotrons might bring to CD spectroscopy collecting data at the first synchrotron radiation circular dichroism (SRCD) beamline as far back as the


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Shining light on membrane proteins, European Biophysics Journal, 2017, 1-1, DOI: 10.1007/s00249-017-1247-1