John Tesmer, a research associate professor at the Life Sciences Institute and the department of pharmacology at the University of Michigan Medical School, has been named the winner of the 2010 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Young Investigator Award (formerly known as the ASBMB/Schering-Plough Research Institute Award), which honors outstanding research contributions to biochemistry and molecular biology by individuals who have no more than 15 years of postdoctoral experience.
Tesmer will present an award lecture titled “Structural Analysis of Heterotrimeric G Proteins and G Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinases” at 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 26, at the 2010 annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
G protein-coupled receptor signaling pathways are responsible for a wide range of intracellular events and are an intense area of biological and pharmaceutical study. Researchers studying GPCR owe a lot to Tesmer and his group, who provided insight into GPCR signaling through their structural and functional analyses of G proteins.
Tesmer’s impressive array of contributions began in 1997, when he solved the atomic structure of RGS4 in a complex with Gαi1 while he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute postdoctoral fellow working with Stephen R. Sprang at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. This was the first structure of a regulator of G protein signaling, as well as the first structure of an RGS protein in complex with its target. Shortly thereafter, Tesmer solved the crystal structure of Gαs, both alone and in complex with the catalytic domains of adenylyl cyclase, the latter providing the first structure of a G protein-effector complex.
Since then, Tesmer, who double majored in biochemistry and English at Rice University and received his doctorate in biological sciences from Purdue University, has never looked back.
“Protein crystallography is often an extremely time-consuming, high-risk approach to answering questions about the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction,” said University of Michigan colleague Alan R. Saltiel. “However, in a very short time [John] has elegantly addressed many fundamental questions of heterotrimeric G protein signal transduction. His success is a clear demonstration of his perseverance, expertise, clear-mindedness and ability to effectively synergize with collaborators.”