Dowhan honored by the Biophysical Society for work in membrane protein research

By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

Biophysical SocietyWilliam Dowhan, PhD, professor and John S. Dunn Chair in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, received the 2022 Anatrace Membrane Protein Award at the Biophysical Society national meeting in February.

The award and invited lecture were established to recognize an outstanding investigator who has made a significant contribution to the field of membrane protein research.

Dr. William Dowhan ASBMB Fellow
William Dowhan, PhD

The award is designed to promote membrane protein studies and recognize excellence in the field. Dowhan was recognized for his seminal contribution to understanding the lipid regulation of integral membrane protein topology.

“My research group beginning over 10 years ago challenged prevailing dogma that marginalized the importance of specific lipid-protein interactions in the dynamic organization of membrane proteins,” Dowhan said. “Recognition through this award has signaled the acceptance of our longstanding position of such interactions in defining cell membrane organization.”

Dowhan received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969 before completing a postdoctoral fellowship in the Harvard Medical School Department of Biological Chemistry in 1972. He joined the McGovern Medical School faculty in 1972 and has served as past interim chair of biochemistry and molecular biology. Dowhan is also a member of the faculty at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

His research program detailing the biochemistry, metabolism, and genetics of phospholipids and their role in central cellular processes has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1973.

In July 2021, Dowhan was inducted into the first class of Fellows of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). As a fellow, Dowhan is recognized for his meritorious efforts to advance the molecular life sciences through sustained outstanding accomplishments in areas such as scientific research, education, mentorship, commitment to diversity, and service to the society and scientific community.

In January, Dowhan announced his retirement from McGovern Medical School after 50 years of service. Although he formally retired, Dowhan was rehired by the medical school as a part-time faculty member (professor) in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to continue directing his research program funded by continued support from the NIH for at least the next four years.