Roderick MacKinnon MD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2001
"For the elucidation of the mechanism of action and molecular structure of cation channels."

Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA


Dr. Roderick MacKinnon's crystal structure of a K+ channel is the end point of a half-century of analysis of cation channel structure-function relationships. It is a stunning accomplishment that solidifies all of the work on the structure of the pore. MacKinnon has driven his field forward with an exceptional focus and intensity. His early work on the pore focussed attention on this critical region; his later work on the crystal structure has opened the field to other investigators who now have a firm basis for further molecular analysis. His work explains at the molecular level, exactly how drugs and toxins alter the properties of channels. His contributions, which are relevant to the development of drug therapies that work through channels. are of enormous value to human disease and relief of human suffering and to the broader aspects of medicine.

Roderick MacKinnon received his BA degree from Brandeis University in 1978 and his MD from Tufts University in 1982. He was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. R. Morgan at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard University from 1985-1986 and with Dr. C. Miller at Brandeis University from 1986-1989. He was Assistant, Associate and Full Professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School from 1989-1996 and since 1996; he has been Professor of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics at Rockefeller University. Among his many honours are: election to the National Academy of Sciences, 2000; The Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (shared with Clay Armstrong and Bertil Hille) 1999; and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished work in Basic Medical Research, 2000. Dr. MacKinnon is an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.