Indian American professor named as member of National Academy of Medicine

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John Kuriyan (Courtesy: UC Berkley College of Chemistry)

Indian American John Kuriyan was among 85 new members of the National Academy of Medicine, which also included 75 regular members and 10 international members.

Kuriyan is a professor of molecular and cell biology as well as chemistry at U.C. Berkeley and he was named for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of the regulation of eukaryotic cell signaling by proteins such as Src-family kinases, and for determining the structural and molecular origin of the specificity of the first precision medicine, the cancer drug Gleevec, the academy said in a press release.

Kuriyan’s research concerns the atomic-level structure and mechanism of the enzymes and molecular switches that carry out cellular signal transduction as his laboratory uses x-ray crystallography to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins involved in signaling, as well as biochemical, biophysical and cell biological analyses to elucidate mechanisms.

According to a press release, breakthroughs from the lab have included determining the auto-inhibited structures of several tyrosine kinases, including Src family kinases and elucidating the mechanism of allosteric activation of the kinase domains of the EGF receptor, while his laboratory has provided a fundamental understanding of the structure and regulation of several other signaling proteins, including STATs, the Ras activator SOS, and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase-II.

Kuriyan earned his doctorate from MIT in 1986 and he was a post-doctoral fellow with professors Martin Karplus of Harvard and Gregory A. Petsko of MIT, according to a press release.

He was then on the faculty of The Rockefeller University from 1987 to 2001, during which he was a promoted to a full-time professor in 1993, after which he went to go teach at U.C. Berkeley.

Kuriyan has also been an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1990.

Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service, it said in a press release.

The newly elected members bring NAM’s total membership to 2,178 and the number of international members to 159.

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