Judith Frydman grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she majored in Chemistry and received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Buenos Aires. She carried out her postdoctoral training with Ulrich Hartl at the Sloan Kettering Institute in New York, where she had two major contributions to the field of cellular protein folding. First, she discovered that eukaryotic cells have a ring-shaped chaperonin complex, which was termed TRiC and secondly, she established that, unlike what was previously believed based on biophysical experiments, protein folding in in eukaryotic cells occurs cotranslationally as polypeptides emerge from ribosomes during their biosynthesis. Importantly, she showed that distinct molecular chaperones are specifically recruited to bind ribosome-nascent chain complexes to assist cotranslational folding. These fundamental discoveries have shaped current thinking of protein folding in vivo. She is currently the Donald Kennedy Chair in Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University and a professor in the Departments of Biology and Genetics. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests

The central theme of Dr. Frydman's research is to understand how cells maintain a healthy and functional proteome by focusing on biological mechanisms controlling cellular protein folding, aggregation and quality control. Her research has made important contributions to understanding protein homeostasis (proteostasis) in eukaryotic cells. Her lab discovered that distinctly regulated proteostasis networks mediate cotranslational folding and protection of the proteome from proteotoxic stress. She also established the key role of spatial sequestration of misfolded and aggregated proteins in specific membrane-less cellular compartments in proteome quality control and defined how chaperone-dependent pathways cooperate with specific components of the ubiquitin-proteasome system to mediate cytoplasmic and nuclear misfolded protein quality control. Her lab also harnesses these insights to develop therapeutic approaches to ameliorate human diseases including neurodegenerative and viral infectious diseases. Work in the Frydman lab has also identified specific interventions that disfavor the production of toxic protein species; efforts are now focused on the link between aging and loss of cellular robustness.

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Primary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry

Secondary Section

Section 29: Biophysics and Computational Biology