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Katherine A. Henzler-Wildman, PhD

Katherine A. Henzler-Wildman, PhD

Katherine A. Henzler-Wildman, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, is being recognized for her outstanding work in the basic science investigation of membrane protein dynamics.

Henzler-Wildman earned her doctoral degree from the University of Michigan in 2003 and completed postdoctoral training at Brandeis University in 2008. She joined the Washington University faculty in that same year. Although still relatively early in her career, she has already distinguished herself as an outstanding, productive and cutting-edge investigator.

She studies the dynamics of proteins in the cell membrane — identifying their structure and function and how they move and change shape as they do their cellular work. She focuses in particular on transport proteins, which are responsible for moving molecules across cell membranes.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dorothee Kern, she contributed important findings in the understanding of enzyme catalysis, which she published in Nature. At Washington University, she has studied EmrE, a transport protein in E. coli responsible for providing the bacterium with multidrug resistance. Combining new approaches with traditional methods, Henzler-Wildman recently uncovered crucial details of how the protein accomplishes transport: the orientation of EmrE proteins in the membrane, and how they rearrange themselves to allow small molecules to pass through.

Her work shows great promise for advancing the field of membrane dynamics in general and for understanding and addressing bacterial multidrug resistance in particular.

Also appreciated as a valuable mentor to students, Henzler-Wildman lectures in the medical and graduate school curriculum, serves on several thesis committees and is an advisee for six graduate students.

Henzler-Wildman is a Searle Scholar and will receive the 2013 Margaret O. Dayhoff Award from the Biophysical Society.

Published: 02/08/2013