Kenan Distinguished Professor
Education and Training
University of Wisconsin, BS, 1964
University of Wisconsin, MS, 1966
State University of New York at Buffalo, PhD, 1972
Roswell Park Memorial Institute (Buffalo), Postdoctoral, 1972-1973
University of Illinois (Urbana), Postdoctoral, 1972
Areas of Interest
One biomedical project involves the study of membrane nanodomains important as receptors on dendritic cells for multiple pathogens. The particular pathogen we study is dengue virus and its receptor/attachment factor, DC-SIGN, a transmembrane C-type lectin. We investigate how dengue virus bound to the cell surface moves laterally to sites of internalization and the subsequent internal trafficking of virus and receptor that will finally produce infection. A key aspect is to identify where in the process antibodies that block dengue infection act. This research is important because there is no effective vaccine or drug therapy for dengue infections in the nearly ½ billion people infected each year.
The second biomedical project is involved with cell motility, in particular an oscillating, periodically protruding phenotype. This is a basic research project and provides a test bed for needed new theoretical approaches to modeling motile phenomena. However, the periodically protruding phenotype is likely a model for a key type of amoeboid migration that is important in development and to the spread of metastatic carcinomas.
The third project is to design, build and test a thermoelectrically cooled vaccine cooler for the end stage of the cold chain in the rural developing world. In this region, expensive vaccines are lost or degraded due to overheating or freezing. This results in a loss of confidence in the treatment in the populations to be vaccinated leading to the more devastating effects of widespread infection because the vaccines administered are impotent. Our goal is to provide a temperature controlled environment employing semiconductor thermoelectric devices powered by photovoltaic panels placed on the sides of the cooler. This research is done by UNC undergraduate students.
Awards and Honors
Established Investigatorship of the American Heart Association beginning 7/1/77 – 6/30/82.
1987 Visiting Scientist Fellowship from the Swedish Medical Research Council.
1993 Doctor of Medicine honoris causa from Faculty of Health Sciences at Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
1994 Suddath Memorial Symposium Lecture on Structural Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology.
2003-4 Chair, Membrane Structure and Assembly Subgroup, Biophysical Society.
2004 Biophysical Discussions of the Biophysical Society, “Probing Membrane Microdomains” Organizing Chairperson.
2005 Kenan Distinguished Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology.
2008 Elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
2009 Named Hometown Hero through the WCHL Village Pride Award Program, Chapel Hill, NC
2011 Gregorio Weber Award for Excellence in Fluorescence Theory and Application
2013 Distinguished Biomedical Alumnus, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Buffalo
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology
Core Member, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Resarch Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill