Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Ion Channel Chemistry: The Electrical System of Life,” Dr. Roderick MacKinnon

2008 Linus Pauling Legacy Award

May 5, 2008

Speaker Biography

Roderick MacKinnon
Roderick MacKinnon (Rockefeller University)

“Ion Channel Chemistry: The Electrical System of Life”  Watch Video

A biophysicist and self-taught X-ray crystallographer, Dr. MacKinnon of Rockefeller University won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in ion channel imaging. His research focuses on the physical and chemical processes that produce electricity in cells, and the passage of inorganic ions (such as potassium and chloride) across cell membranes. In 1998, MacKinnon became the first scientist ever to capture a three-dimensional image of a potassium ion channel, thus solving the mystery of its structure. His achievements have advanced the fields of both biology and medicine.

Dr. MacKinnon received his B.A. in biochemistry from Brandeis University and his M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine. He completed medical residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston before returning to Brandeis for postdoctoral studies. He joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1989 and in 1996 moved to Rockefeller University as a professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics.

In addition to the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dr. MacKinnon is the recipient of numerous scientific awards, including the 2003 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, the 2001 Gairdner Foundation International Award, the 2001 Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, the 2000 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research and the 1999 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award.