Richard Henderson

Medical Research Council


Election Year: 1998
Primary Section: 21, Biochemistry
Secondary Section: 29, Biophysics and Computational Biology
Membership Type: Foreign Associate

Research Interests

Originally a physicist, I am interested both in the structure of proteins and in the development of better methods for atomic resolution structural analysis. I have studied membrane protein structure because many of the most interesting functions in cells involving transport or signaling across membranes are carried out or controlled by proteins in the cell membrane. I have been interested in atomic structures because this brings an understanding of function in terms of the chemistry of the interactions. My work on bacteriorhodopsin, a light-driven hydrogen ion pump from Halobacteria, produced an atomic model that allowed many other observations to be interpreted in chemical terms so that we now broadly understand its proton pumping mechanism. I am now extending my interests to study the structure of membrane receptors, pumps, or channels involved in human physiology. On the technical side, my work involves the development of high-resolution electron microscopy into a reliable tool for the determination of atomic resolution structures of biological macromolecules and macromolecular assemblies.

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