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Nakanishi Prize: Martin Gruebele

by Linda Wang
January 2, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 1

Martin Gruebele
Credit: Courtesy of Martin Gruebele
Photo of Martin Gruebele.
Credit: Courtesy of Martin Gruebele

Sponsor: Nakanishi Prize Endowment

Citation: For his landmark spectroscopic studies showing how proteins initiate their folding on ultrafast time scales and how they fold in individual living cells.

Current position: James R. Eiszner Chair in Chemistry; professor of physics, biophysics, and computational biology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Education: B.S., chemistry, University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D., chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Gruebele on his biggest research challenge: “Research requires patience. I’ve had several cases where it took five to eight years to develop an instrument to where it could produce novel results about important problems like glassy dynamics or in-cell reactions of proteins. We live in a climate where everything needs to be commercializable immediately, and it’s just not always possible with the big scientific questions. Who would have guessed in 1915 that formulas based on general relativity theory would eventually end up being programmed into small hand-held wireless communications devices, called cell phones, to pin down their location?”

What his colleagues say: “Martin Gruebele has brought a powerful intellect and expertise in modern experimental physical chemistry which, together with truly creative experiments, have had an enormous impact on advancing our understanding of protein folding and dynamics.”—William Eaton, National Institutes of Health



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