We are pleased to announce Professor Ruth Nussinov as the first confirmed keynote for our symposium!
Ruth Nussinov is a Professor in the School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University and Senior Principal Scientist and Principal Investigator at the National Cancer Institute.
After receiving her B.Sc. from the University of Washington, Seattle and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Rutgers, she was a Fellow at the Weizmann Institute and a Visiting Scientist at the Chemistry Department at Berkeley and at the Biochemistry Department at Harvard. She joined Tel Aviv University in 1985 as Associate Professor and became Full Professor in 1990. Her association with the NCI also initiated in 1985.
Ruth Nussinov's 1978 paper proposed the dynamic programming algorithm for RNA secondary structure prediction. To date, this algorithm is still the leading method and is taught in bioinformatics classes in universities across Europe and the US. She also pioneered DNA sequence analysis in the early 1980s.
Ruth Nussinov's work is largely concept-driven. In 1999, her NCI group proposed the model of 'conformational selection and population shift' as an alternative to ‘induced fit’ to explain molecular recognition. While biochemistry textbooks have championed the induced fit mechanism for more than 50 years, there is now growing support for the new mechanism that she proposed. The concept of population shift that her group introduced emphasized that all conformational states preexist, and that evolution has exploited them for function. Recently, NMR studies directly revealed the preexistence of in vivo protein conformations. Conformational selection has by now been observed for protein–ligand, protein–protein, protein–DNA, protein–RNA, and RNA–ligand interactions. These observations support this new molecular recognition paradigm for processes as diverse as signaling, catalysis, gene regulation, and protein aggregation in disease. This paradigm has impacted the scientific community's views and strategies in drug design, biomolecular engineering, and molecular evolution. Population shift is now broadly recognized as the origin of allostery, and thus signaling, across multimolecular complexes, pathways, and the entire cellular network; the propagation pathways may explain the effects of allosteric, disease-related mutations.
Ruth Nussinov was a recipient of the 2011 Biophysical Society Fellow Award for her extraordinary contributions to advances in computational biology on both nucleic acids and proteins. She has coauthored over 440 scientific papers and is highly cited. Her research focuses on protein structure, dynamics, function, protein–protein interactions, and cellular signaling. She is a frequent speaker in colloquia and at domestic and international meetings, serves on many site-visit and grant-review teams, and plays numerous roles in the scientific community.