A native of Rhode Island, Dr. William A. Catterall received his BA degree in Chemistry from Brown University in 1968, his PhD in Physiological Chemistry from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1972, and his postdoctoral training in neurobiology and molecular pharmacology as a Muscular Dystrophy Association Research Fellow with Dr. Marshall Nirenberg at the National Institutes of Health from 1972 to 1974. Following three more years as a staff scientist at the National Institutes of Health, he joined the faculty of the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1977 as an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, became professor in 1981, and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology in 1984.
After establishing his laboratory at the University of Washington, Dr. Catterall and his colleagues discovered the voltage-gated sodium and calcium channel proteins, which are responsible for generation of electrical signals in the brain, heart, skeletal muscles, and other excitable cells. Their subsequent work has contributed much to understanding the structure, function, regulation, and molecular pharmacology of these key cell-signaling molecules. Dr. Catterall's recent work has turned toward understanding diseases caused by impaired function and regulation of voltage-gated ion channels, including epilepsy and periodic paralysis.
Dr. Catterall's early research was recognized with the Passano Foundation Young Scientist Award in 1981 and with Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Awards in 1984 and 1991. Dr. Catterall received the Basic Science Prize of the American Heart Association in 1992, the Mathilde Solowey Award in Neuroscience from the National Institutes of Health and the H.B. Van Dyke Award in Pharmacology from Columbia University in 1995, the McKnight Foundation Senior Neuroscience Investigator Award in 1998, and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research in 2003.
Dr. Catterall was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989, where he served as Chair of the Section of Physiology & Pharmacology from 1998 to 2001. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2000, and he was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London in 2008. He served as editor-in-chief of Molecular Pharmacology from 1985 to 1990, was a founding member of the editorial board of Neuron in 1988, and has been an editorial board member of numerous other professional journals. Dr. Catterall and his colleagues have published more than 400 research papers and 30 reviews and reference works on voltage-gated ion channels.