Tamir Gonen, PhD

Position Title:
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Professor, Physiology
Professor, Biological Chemistry

Biography:

Dr Gonen is an expert in electron crystallography and cryo EM. He determined the 1.9Å resolution structure of the water channel aquaporin-0 by electron crystallography, the highest resolution for any protein determined by cryo EM techniques at the time. Dr Gonen established his own laboratory at the University of Washington in 2005 together with the very first cryo EM laboratory in the Pacific Northwest, a resource that continues to benefit many researchers at the UW School of Medicine and beyond. He has authored many publications from his laboratory concerning membrane protein structure and function. More recently Dr Gonen was honored with a Career Development award from the American Diabetes Association as well as being chosen one of only 50 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientists around the country. In 2011 Dr Gonen accepted a position as a Group Leader at the HHMI Janelia Research Campus where he began developing MicroED as a new method for structural biology. With this method Dr Gonen has pushed the boundaries of cryoEM and determined a number of previously unknown structures at resolutions close to 1Å. In 2017 Dr Gonen transitioned his laboratory to the UCLA David Geffen Medical School and an HHMI investigator where he continues to study membrane protein structure and function and further develops MicroED. Over the years Dr Gonen authors more than 80 publications and mentored a number of trainees who are now tenure track professors around the USA.

Research Interests:

Biomembranes represent the interface of life, where homeostasis is controlled and maintained, nutrients and wastes are exchanged, signals are perceived and transmitted, cells are attached and interact, and pathogens break in and invade. My laboratory is interested in revealing the structural and molecular mechanisms by which membrane proteins mediate these cross-membrane processes with high specificity and efficiency. Using various methods in structural biology, together with other biophysical and biochemical approaches, our ongoing research focuses on membrane channels, transporters and macromolecular machines that form biological pores at the blood brain barrier. Method development efforts in the laboratory focus on MicroED to enable studying the structures of membrane proteins from extremely small crystals using electron diffraction.

Awards/Honors:

1996 Science Deans Honors List – Organic Chemistry
1996 Science Deans Honors List – Inorganic Chemistry
1997 Summer Research Scholarship, University of Auckland, NZ.
1997 Science Deans Honors List – Inorganic Chemistry
1998 Senior Prize in Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, N.Z.
1998 First Class Honors in Biological Sciences
1999 University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship, University of Auckland, N.Z.
2009 American Diabetes Association Career Development Award
2009 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist
2010 New Investigator Science in Medicine Lecture
2012 Member of the Royal Society of New Zealand
2017 Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
2018 Chair, Biophysical Society CryoEM subgroup.