William DeGrado

 

DeGradoWilliam DeGrado

American chemist William F. DeGrado is a professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry of the University of California; moreover, he is a member of the American Academy of Sciences. He is considered a prominent figure of protein-based drug design.

He received his BSc degree in chemistry at the University of Kalamazoo, and later his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1981, which focused on the design of oxime resin frequently used for solid phase synthesis. This technique is used during the production of various, biologically active macromolecules such as proteins. His main area of interest became protein and drug design.

After his student years he worked in the industrial area as a research fellow, while in the early 90's he became a senior director at DuPont Central Research & Development (later DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company).
In 1996 he returned to the academic area and became an adjunct professor and later full professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics of the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2011 he has been working at the University of California as a professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Cardiovascular Research Institute.

His research fields include pharmaceutical protein design, synthesis of peptidomimetics, membrane active peptides, ion channels and antibiotics. His research group described the entire structure and mechanism of the influenza A virus’ M2 membrane channel protein by crystallography and NMR spectroscopy, which significantly simplified the design of influenza drugs and helped to identify the main causes of amantadine drug resistance.

In addition, de novo protein design may explain the connection between protein sequences and their three-dimensional structure, moreover, the design of combined peptides and biomimetic polymers could produce materials with special, yet unknown properties.

DeGrado's outstanding work has been rewarded with several prestigious awards such as the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry (1992), The American Peptide Society Merrifield Award (2005), The Stein and Moore Award (2015). He also held associate editor positions at Proteins: Structure, Functions, Bioinformatics and Journal of Peptide Research.

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