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About the Protein Society

In the autumn of 1985, a group unofficially dubbed the “American Protein Scientists” organized an exploratory meeting at the former Omni Hotel in San Diego. More than 450 proteins-oriented biologists, chemists, physicists, and mathematicians gathered to share research and brainstorm about the formation of a new society, how it should look, the establishment of a journal and more. By the time the meeting concluded, the idea of The Protein Society was born.

It was agreed the Society should maintain an international membership and focus on protein research from all over the world. The name “The Protein Society” was chosen with that perspective in mind. A pro tem Council was organized to shepherd the nascent organization through formation and incorporation, with Ralph Bradshaw appointed as president and Garry Merry serving as secretary-treasurer. The first elected executive officers were David Eisenberg (president); Finn Wold (president-elect); and Ken Walsh (secretary-treasurer). Original elected councilors were Ralph Bradshaw, Gerald Fasman, Robert Hill, Garry Merry, Hans Neurath, and Emil Smith. The first official meeting was held in 1987 at the Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel, also in San Diego. Emil Smith was named the recipient of the inaugural Stein and Moore Award at that meeting, the first of what is now a whole series of awards with proud rosters of distinguished awardees.

The Society’s journal Protein Science was founded in 1990, with Hans Neurath as the Founding editor. Other members of the original editorial team were Louise Johnson, Tony Hugli, Ralph Bradshaw, Christopher Walsh, and Rachel Klevit. This journal continues to thrive today. It has had only four Editors-in-Chief over more than 30 years of existence. Its founder was succeeded by Mark Hermodson, Purdue University; Brian Matthews, University of Oregon; and current editor-in-chief, John Kuriyan, University of California, Berkeley.

Until a few years ago, the organization held its annual symposia exclusively in the United States. However, starting in the mid-1990s, the Society also sponsored a series of biannual European meetings. In 2015, the organization finally took its actual annual symposium  international - to Barcelona, with a Canadian edition in Montreal in 2017. Sadly, following extensive planning with the Protein Science Society of Japan and the Asia Pacific Protein Association for a 2020 symposium in Sapporo, the meeting was canceled because of the COVID pandemic. The lingering pandemic also necessitated that the 2021 symposium be held in virtual format. While we hope never to have to do that again, this meeting was nevertheless considered to be a success. The pandemic also spurred deployment of an ongoing series of successful free TPS Webinars. We are grateful to all of those who have organized and spoken in this series.

Recent years have seen a long overdue infusion of both gender and racial equity in both the leadership of the society and in its membership, though we recognize that we still have a long way to go to live up to our ideals. 

Over the years, the Protein Society has succeeded in large part because of the many contributions made by the organizers of its symposia, its committees, council, executive officers, members, and staff. 

TPS Presidents

2021-2023 Chuck Sanders, Vanderbilt University

2019-2021 Amy Keating, MIT

2017-2019 Charlie Brooks III, University of Michigan

2015-2017 Carol Post, Purdue University

2013-2015 Jim Bowie, UCLA

2011-2013 Lynne Regan, Yale University

2009-2011 Daniel Raleigh, State University of NY at Stony Brook

2007-2009 Arthur Palmer, Columbia University

2005-2007 Jeff Kelly, Scripps

2003-2005 C. Robert Matthews, University of Massachusetts

2001-2003 William DeGrado, University of Pennsylvania

1999-2001 Christopher Dobson, Cambridge University

1997-1999 Robert Sauer, MIT

1995-1997 Brian Matthews, University of Oregon

1993-1995 Joseph Villafranca, Penn State University

1991-1993 Mark Hermodson, Purdue University

1989-1991 Finn Wold, University of Texas Medical School

1987-1989 David Eisenberg, UCLA

1985-1987 Ralph Bradshaw, University of California-Irvine

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