2020 Khorana Prize Winner
Professor Bonnie Ann Wallace, Birkbeck, University of London
Awarded for the pioneering development of biophysical methods and bioinformatics tools to enable the characterisation of ion channel-drug molecule complexes.
Professor Wallace’s work has included both experimental and computational studies on membrane proteins, focusing recently on voltage-gated sodium channels, which are responsible for electrical signalling in excitable tissues. Mutations in these channels cause a wide range of neurological and cardiovascular diseases, so knowledge of the relationship between their structures and function provides an important key for developing treatments for such diseases as epilepsy and chronic pain.
Professor Wallace’s lab was the first to determine the three-dimensional (crystal) structure of an open, active, full-length sodium channel, and to identify the locations of the three sodium ions within the channel selectivity filter, and the features that define their unique specificity for sodium versus other types of ions. This information is helping guide the development of new pharmaceutical drugs.
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