A protein is a string of amino acids that folds into a three-dimensional structure. Proteins perform the molecular functions that are necessary for life. These functions include catalysis of biochemical reactions (by enzymes), neutralisation of foreign toxins (by antibodies), stimulation of cellular activity (by hormones), and provision of a scaffold for the bodies of animals (by collagen).
Professor Raines' work has uncovered unappreciated forces that stabilise the three-dimensional structures of all proteins, and generated synthetic collagens that are stronger and longer than any found in nature. His team has also converted a human RNA-cleaving enzyme into a clinical anti-cancer agent, and developed processes to synthesise proteins, catalyse their folding, and facilitate their entry into human cells.
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Ron Raines is the Roger and Georges Firmenich Professor of Natural Products Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an Extramural Member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Professor Raines is a native of the New Jersey suburbs of New York City. He received ScB degrees in chemistry and biology at MIT, performing undergraduate research with Chris Walsh. He received AM and PhD degrees in chemistry at Harvard University for research done with Jeremy Knowles. He was a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow with Bill Rutter in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1989, was a Visiting Associate at Caltech in 2009, and returned to MIT in 2017.