Walid A. Houry

Education & Positions: Professor in the Department of Biochemistry (2000 – current) and in the Department of Chemistry (2016 – current) at the University of Toronto. I obtained my MSc (1991) and PhD (1996) from Cornell University and did my postdoctoral training at the Sloan-Kettering Institute (1996-1997) in New York City and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry (1997-2000) in Munich, Germany.

Research Interests: My group is interested in the general area of cellular stress responses and the role of molecular chaperones and ATP-dependent proteases in these responses. To this end, my group utilizes various structural, biophysical, biochemical, proteomic, and cell biological approaches to understand the mechanism of function of these chaperones and proteases. We are also interested in the development of novel anticancers and antibiotics by identifying compounds that target these chaperones and proteases and result in the dysregulation of protein homeostasis in the cell.

Honors & Awards: Premier’s Research Excellence Award, University of Toronto (January, 2002 – December, 2005); Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator award (July, 2001 – June, 2006); Canada Foundation for Innovation Leaders Opportunity Fund (April, 2010 – March, 2011); Tokyo Biochemical Research Foundation Award (November, 2011); Visiting Scientist Award from the National Research Foundation of South Africa (December, 2015).

The Protein Society: Active member since 2003; On the membership committee of the Protein Society since 2020.

Service: I have played leadership roles in several capacities. I was Acting Chair of the Department of Biochemistry (2018), and I cofounded the Proteomics Researcher in Canada (PRinCE) group (2018). I was recently elected to the Academic Board of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto (2020 –2023). I have led a team grant from CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity for the development of novel antibiotics (2008-2012). I have also led the protein homeostasis community in Toronto as Director and Principal Applicant of the CIHR training program in “Protein Folding and Interaction Dynamics: Principles and Diseases” (2002-2015) involving about 30 PIs.

 I have been involved in organizing several national and international meetings. For example, I served as the lead organizer for the Keystone symposium on AAA+ proteins (January, 2020). I work to actively promote scientific research by serving as board member of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (2018-2022) and the Protein Society membership committee (February, 2020 – current). I also helped establish the Biophysical Society Student Chapter at the University of Toronto. I also serve as Editorial board member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry (2017-2022), Microbial Cell (2014-current), Biomolecules (2019-current), and as Associate Editor of Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences (2014-current).

Vision Statement: When the Protein Society was formed, I was a graduate student at Cornell University doing folding studies on Ribonuclease A. Early at that time, I had the chance to attend one of the Society’s annual meetings. It was a great experience seeing how the Society brought together all those interested in everything protein-related from structural biologists, cell biologists, and theoreticians. I found the Society was a perfect home for anyone interested in studying proteins. If elected, I will contribute to the efforts aimed at expanding the Society’s membership by recruiting established and junior scientists with the goal of expanding the Society’s representation internationally. I will also work to promote the Society’s journal, Protein Science, and ensure that the journal remains the go-to publication for many in the field, while maintaining its scientific excellence. I will also work to promote the Protein Society internationally and highlight its importance as a hub that fosters networking and collaborations. I look forward to contributing to all these efforts.