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Protein Society Awards

The nominating process for the 2021 Protein Society Awards is now open. To learn more and submit your nomination for one of our seven awards, click here. Membership is required to submit a nomination, but the nominee does not have to be a member of the Society.

TPS awards recognize excellence across the diverse disciplines that collectively advance our understanding of proteins; their structure, function, design, and application. The Awards honor researchers who have distinguished themselves with significant achievements in protein research and those who have made outstanding contributions in leadership, teaching, and service. TPS members submit nominations, which are awarded by Executive Council, and recipients are honored at the Annual Symposium.

Karen Fleming, 
2020 Carl Brändén Award Winner

(Johns Hopkins University)

The 2020 recipient of this award is Professor Karen Fleming (Johns Hopkins University). Professor Karen Fleming is a pioneer and leader in the field of membrane protein folding. Her contributions include making some of the first rigorous thermodynamic measurements for membrane protein folding, introducing the hydrophobicity scale that is now most widely used to describe amino-acid side chain partitioning into bilayers, and elucidating the thermodynamic principles governing the coupled trafficking and folding of Gram-negative beta-barrel membrane proteins. Dr. Fleming has also tirelessly served the scientific community, devoting major service to scientific societies and co-founding (with Stein and Moore awardee James Bowie) the Gordon Research Conference on Membrane Protein Folding. Dr. Fleming is also an eloquent and outspoken advocate for women in science, with a particular passion for illuminating and neutralizing hidden biases commonly held by both men and women.

Carl Brändén Award

In the tradition of Carl Brändén, pioneer in structural biology, co-author of the seminal text Introduction to Protein Structure, and leader of the world-class synchrotron facility at Grenoble, the Carl Brändén Award, sponsored by Rigaku Corporation, honors an outstanding protein scientist who has also made exceptional contributions in the areas of education and/or service.

Specific Requirement: Sustained, high-impact research contributions to the field and additional contributions to education/service.

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Previous Award Winners

2019 - Minoru Kanehisa
2018 - Jane and Dave Richardson
2017 - Billy Hudson
2016 - Gary Pielak
2015 - C. Robert Matthews

2014 - Stephen White
2013 - Sheena Radford
2012 - Helen Berman
2011 - Michael Summers
2010 - Nobuhiro Go
2009 - Bruce Alberts
2008 - Howard Schachman
2007 - Lubert Stryer


Stephen Sligar,
2020 Christian B. Anfinsen Award Winner

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

The recipient of this award in 2020 is Professor Stephen Sligar (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). Dr. Sligar's academic career has featured the discovery, development, and use of chemical and biophysical tools to understand fundamental problems in protein biochemistry and biophysics. Of relevance to the Anfinsen Award is his development of nanodiscs, which are patches of lipid membrane stabilized by a “belt” of membrane scaffolding proteins. By using nanodiscs, signaling proteins and macromolecular complexes that rely on a membrane can be readily studied in a native bilayer that is solubilized in an aqueous environment. Dr. Sligar’s commitment to wide  dissemination of the nanodisc  technology has led to its use by hundreds of laboratories, amplifying the impact of his advances and broadly benefitting the field of protein science.

Christian B. Anfinsen Award

Established in 1996 and named for Nobel laureate Christian Boehmer Anfinsen, whose research on the structure and function of enzyme proteins contributed to the general acceptance of the “thermodynamic hypothesis,” The Christian B. Anfinsen Award recognizes significant technological achievements and/or methodological advancements in protein research.

Specific Requirement: Technological achievement or significant methodological advances.

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Previous Award Winners

2019 - Anthony Kossiakoff
2018 - Yifan Cheng
2017 - Lewis Kay
2016 - Andreas Pluckthun
2015 - Sachdev Sidhu
2014 - Robert Tycko
2013 - Tom Albert
2012 - Barry Honig
2011 - Wayne Bolen
2010 - Yoshinori Fujiyoshi
2009 - Wayne Hubbell
2008 - Carol Robinson
2007 - Carl Frieden
2006 - John R. Yates, III
2005 - Matthias Mann
2004 - Meir Wilchek
2003 - Ada Yonath
2002 - Roger Tsien
2001 - Martin Karplus
2000 - Stephen Benkovic
1999 - Alan Fersht
1998 - James Wells
1997 - Wayne Hendrickson
1996 - Donald Hunt


Catherine Drennan, 
2020 Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award Winner

(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

The 2020 recipient is Professor Catherine Drennan (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Dr. Drennan  has made enormous contributions  by solving high-resolution structures of proteins and protein complexes that  enhance our understanding of the biology of metalloproteins. Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was famous for using X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of Vitamin B12, and Dr. Drennan has provided monumental insights into the structure and function of proteins that bind to B12.  Dr. Drennan is known for going beyond single proteins and elucidating structures that illuminate entire pathways, capturing multiple snapshots of enzymes as they proceed through their reaction cycles. Among her many notable accomplishments, Dr. Drennan determined the first structure of the cobalamin-dependent ribonucleotide reductase, one of the three enzymes that catalyze the final step in production of deoxyribonucleotides in all organisms. Dr. Drennan’s insights are solidly etched into textbooks and the fabric of our field. Drennan is also an outstanding and widely recognized educator and a tireless advocate for inclusion and equity in science. 

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was a founder of protein crystallography as well as a Nobel laureate. The Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award, sponsored by Genentech, is granted in recognition of exceptional contributions in protein science which profoundly influence our understanding of biology.

Specific Requirement: Profound influence on our understanding of biology.

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Previous Award Winners

2019 - Hao Wu
2018 - Susan Marqusee
2017 - Juli Feigon and Manajit Hayer-Hartl
2016 - Rachel Klevit
2015 - Eva Nogales
2014 - Judith Frydman

2013 - Christopher Hill and Cynthia Wolberger
2012 - Mark Lemmon
2011 - Brenda Schulman and Wei Yang
2010 - Lila Gierasch
2009 - Janet Thornton
2008 - Douglas Rees
2007 - Leemor Joshua-Tor


Shuguang Zhang, 
2020 Emil Thomas Kaiser Award Winner

(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 

The 2020 recipient is Professor Shuguang Zhang  (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Dr. Zhang is widely seen as a founder of the field of peptide nanomaterials. He discovered a class of ionic self-complementary peptides  that undergo molecular self-assembly to form well-ordered nanofibers and membranous structures. Dr. Zhang went on to show many important applications of this class of peptide materials as carriers for controlled drug delivery and as the building blocks of scaffolds for tissue regeneration and accelerated wound healing.He was at the forefront of showing that 3-D cell culture offers a more realistic micro- and local-environment than 2-D culture, and he  demonstrated the utility of 3-D culture in basic cell biology, tumor biology, high-content drug screening, and regenerative medicine. His contributions have transformed our basic understanding of the biochemical basis of molecular self-assembly and its application in the field of biomedical engineering.

Emil Thomas Kaiser Award

In 2002, The Protein Society established The Emil Thomas Kaiser Award. Dr. Kaiser’s highly original research, including the profoundly significant discovery of the necessity amphiphilic helices to biological life, can be said to have introduced a new field of chemistry. In this tradition, The Emil Thomas Kaiser Award recognizes a recent, highly significant contribution in applying chemistry to the study of proteins. 

To make a donation in support of the Kaiser Award Endowment, please visit this webpage.

Specific Requirement: Application of chemistry to the study of proteins.

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Previous Award Winners

2019 - Shahriar Mobashery
2018 - Michael Rosen
2017- Thomas Muir
2016 - Charles Craik
2015 - Anna Mapp
2014 - Carol Fierke
2013 - Wilfred van der Donk
2012 - No Award Given This Year
2011 - Jeffery Kelly
2010 - Suzanne Walker
2009 - Donald Hilvert
2008 - JoAnne Stubbe
2007 - Michael Marletta
2006 - Barbara Imperiali

Previous recipients, sponsored by SynPep Corporation, include:

2005 - Ronald Raines 
2004 - Homme Hellinga
2003 - Michael Hecht
2002 - Steve Kent


Martin Gruebele,
2020 Hans Neurath Award Winner

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

In 2020, the Hans Neurath Awardee is Professor Martin  Gruebele (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).  Dr. Gruebele is widely known for introducing the advanced technology of flash heating and ultrafast spectroscopy to study protein folding. His work showed that early stages of protein folding, including initial collapse and formation of secondary structures  can occur in microseconds. These advances allowed the first direct comparisons between folding rates determined experimentally and folding rates estimated from simulations. More recently, Dr. Gruebele  showed that fast folding can be studied in live cells. His work established that in vivo folding, while following similar physicochemical rules as in vitro folding, is significantly modulated by the different cellular environments in different parts of the cell. Dr. Gruebele’s work brings the highest level of experimental innovation, experimental precision, and conceptual rigor to protein biophysics.  

Hans Neurath Award

Hans Neurath played an integral role in the early life of the Society, as a founding member and later -at age 81- as founding editor of Protein Science. His contributions to the early success of the Society were surpassed only by his larger contributions to the field of biochemistry and our early understanding of proteins.

Reflective of his prolific contributions to the understanding of the physical chemistry of proteins, The Hans Neurath Award, sponsored by the Hans Neurath Foundation, seeks to honor individuals who have made a recent contribution of exceptional merit to basic protein research.

Specific Requirement: A recent contribution of unusual merit to basic protein science.

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Previous Award Winners

2019 - Dave Thirumalai
2018 - David Baker
2017 - Kazuhiro Nagata
2016 - H. Eric Xu
2015 - Marina Rodnina
2014 - James Hurley
2013 - Jennifer Doudna and Chuck Sanders
2012 - Charles Brooks
2011 - Johannes Buchner
2010 - Wendell Lim
2009 - William Eaton
2008 - Robert Stroud
2007 - Robert Sauer
2006 - Christopher Dobson
2005 - Roderick MacKinnon
2004 - Carlos Bustamante
2003 - James Wells
2002 - Ad Bax
2001 - Arthur Horwich
2000 - Janet Thornton
1999 - Peter Kim
1998 - Ken Dill


James Bowie, 
2020 Stein & Moore Award Winner

(University of California, Los Angeles)

The 2020 recipient is Professor James Bowie (University of California, Los Angeles). Dr. Bowie has shown great creativity and rigor in astoundingly diverse areas of protein science. His 1991 Science paper “A method to identify protein sequences that fold into a known three-dimensional structure” introduced the important idea of protein structure prediction by threading. In the area of membrane protein science, he has contributed novel methods to quantify protein stability, to measure protein-protein interactions in lipid bilayers, and to crystallize membrane proteins in bicelles. He showed that internal hydrogen bonds provide only marginal stabilization of membrane proteins and that membrane proteins can have high kinetic stability. In the area of synthetic biology, Dr. Bowie has developed in vitro systems that enable the continuous production of biofuels and other  molecules in cell-free systems of enzymes with self-regenerating cofactors. Dr. Bowie has also been a dedicated and generous citizen of the scientific community, where he has served in important roles including as  President of The Protein Society and co-founder of the Gordon Research Conference on Membrane Protein Folding (with Carl Brändén awardee Karen Fleming). 

Stein & Moore Award

The Stein and Moore Award, named for Nobel laureates Dr. William Stein and Dr. Stanford Moore, venerates their contribution to understanding the connection between chemical structure and catalytic activity of the active center of the ribonuclease molecule. Established in 1986, the Stein and Moore Award is given to recognize eminent leaders in protein science who have made sustained high impact research contributions to the field.

Specific Requirement: Sustained, high-impact research contributions to the field.

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Previous Award Winners

2019 - Dame Carol Robinson
2018 - Raymond Stevens
2017 - John Kuriyan
2016 - Jane Clarke
2015 - William DeGrado
2014 - Nikolaus Pfanner
2013 - Robert T. Sauer
2012 - No Award Given This Year
2011 - Gerhard Wagner
2010 - Peter Wright
2009 - Peter Walter
2008 - Susan Lindquist
2007 - Paul Schimmel
2006 - Arthur Horwich & F. Ulrich Hartl
2005 - Avram Hershko & Alexander Varshavsky
2004 - Wolfgang Baumeister
2003 - Chris Dobson
2002 - Paul Sigler
2001 - Alan Fersht
2000 - Brian Matthews
1999 - Mo Cleland
1998 - David Davies
1997 - Mildred Cohn
1996 - David Eisenberg
1995 - Harold Scheraga
1994 - Michael Rossman
1993 - Walter Kauzmann
1992 - Robert Baldwin
1991 - Russell Doolittle
1990 - Kurt Wuthrich
1989 - Hans Neurath
1988 - Fred Richards
1987 - Emil Smith

Mohammad Seyedsayamdost,
2020 Protein Science Young Investigator Award winner

(Princeton University)

The 2020 recipient is Professor Mohammad (Mo) Seyedsayamdost (Princeton University).  Dr. Seyedsayamdost has conducted pioneering work on novel biochemical pathways. He uses a creative combination of bioinformatics and chemical genetics to activate cryptic biosynthetic pathways in microbial systems and determine their products. This has led him to discover the vast - and previously overlooked - biosynthetic potential of many bacteria and to determine the effects that bacterially- produced molecules have on other microbes. Pathways that he has discovered produce previously unknown natural products using reactions catalyzed by hitherto uncharacterized proteins. His insights are already having a substantial impact on protein science, as these pathways include novel transformations catalyzed by newly discovered metalloenzymes.  

Protein Science Young Investigator Award

The Protein Science Young Investigator Award, sponsored by Wiley, formerly known as The Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award, recognizes a scientist in the first 8 years of an independent career who has made an important contribution to the study of proteins.*

*With allowances for familial leave or other exigent circumstance.

Specific Requirement: Within 8 years of starting an independent career.

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Previous Award Winners

2019 - Gabriel Lander
2018 - Brandon Ruotolo
2017 - David Pagliarini
2016 - Benjamin Garcia
2015 - Nieng Yan
2014 - M. Madan Babu
2012 - Mei Hong and Tarun M. Kapoor
2011 - Shu-ou Shan
2013 - Feng Shao
2010 - Charalampos Kalodimos
2009 - Virginia Cornish
2008 - Jamie H. Doudna Cate
2007 - Benjamin Cravatt, III
2006 - Vijay Pande
2005 - Thomas Muir
2004 - Erin OíShea and Jonathan Weissman
2003 - Yigong Shi
2002 - Carolyn Bertozzi
2001 - Kevan Shokat
2000 - David Baker
1999 - Jeffery Kelly
1998 - Nikola Pavletich
1997 - John Kuriyan
1996 - Michael Summers
1995 - Stuart Schreiber
1994 - Peter Kim
1993 - Ad Bax and Marius Clore
1992 - Peter Schultz
1991 - Carl Pabo
1990 - Rachel Klevit
1989 - William DeGrado

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