Robert Tycko was trained originally as a physical chemist. His work includes contributions to magnetic resonance methodology, condensed matter physics, biophysics, and structural biology. He is best known recently for applications of solid state nuclear magnetic resonance in structural studies of amyloid fibrils that are associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Tycko was born in 1959 in New York City and raised principally on Long Island. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1980 and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. After postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories as a Member of Technical Staff in 1986. Eight formative years later, he moved to the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health as a member of the Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Among other things, he is currently president of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance.

Research Interests

Robert Tycko's research group is currently pursuing several distinct but inter-related projects. Members of his group are using solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (ssNMR) and electron microscopy to characterize molecular structures of amyloid-B fibrils, including fibrils that develop in brain tissue of Alzheimer's disease patients. They are also investigating molecular structures of amyloid-like fibrils formed by low-complexity protein sequences, with the goal of understanding the biologically relevant self-assembly behavior of such sequences. They are developing time-resolved ssNMR methods that allow detailed structural studies of transient intermediates in biomolecular processes such as protein folding, ligand binding, and protein aggregation, on the millisecond time scale. They are also developing ultra-low-temperature methods for sensitivity enhancement in biomolecular ssNMR and for resolution enhancement in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with the goal of achieving sub-micron resolution in MRI of cells and cell clusters.

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Primary Section

Section 29: Biophysics and Computational Biology

Secondary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences