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Roderick MacKinnon

Roderick MacKinnonBorn: 19-Feb-1956
Birthplace: Burlington, MA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Biologist, Chemist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Ion channels of cell membranes

In 1998, American biochemist Roderick MacKinnon and colleagues in his lab produced the first high-resolution three-dimensional x-ray crystallography images showing the detail and intricate workings of the potassium channels in cell membranes. His research showed that a short sequence of five amino acids acts to filter out sodium ions, despite the fact that these are much smaller than the potassium ions that automatically gain admission to these channels.

Trained as a doctor, MacKinnon gave up a tenured professorship at Harvard and switched careers at the age of thirty. He then largely taught himself the techniques of x-ray crystallography, which fires a beam of x-rays at a crystallized material sample, then measures the scattering of these rays from the crystal to deduce the sample's molecular structure. MacKinnon won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2003, sharing the honor with Peter Agre, who discovered water channels in cell membranes.

Father: (computer programmer)
Sister: Elley (b. 1954, d. leukemia)
Wife: Alice Lee

    High School: Burlington High School, Burlington, MA (1974)
    University: University of Massachusetts Boston (attended, 1974-75)
    University: BS Biochemistry, Brandeis University (1978)
    Medical School: MD, Tufts University School of Medicine (1982)
    Scholar: Postdoctoral studies, Brandeis University (1986-89)
    Teacher: Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Harvard Medical School (1989-91)
    Teacher: Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School (1991-95)
    Professor: Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School (1995-96)
    Professor: Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics, Rockefeller University (1996-)
    Scholar: Brookhaven National Laboratory

    AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize 1998
    Lasker Award 1999
    Alexander M. Cruickshank Award 2000
    Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award 2000
    Gairdner Foundation International Award 2001
    Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize 2003
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2003 (with Peter Agre)
    Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator (1997-)
    National Institutes of Health Fellow (1985-86)
    Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society
    American Philosophical Society 2005
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    National Academy of Sciences 2000

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