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Susan Lindquist, professor of Biology at MIT, member of the Whitehead Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is a pioneer in the study of protein folding. After receiving her B.A. in Microbiology from the University of Illinois in 1971, Lindquist completed her Ph.D. in Biology at Harvard University. In 1978 she finished her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago.
Lindquist’s contributions to the field include showing that changes in protein folding can have profound and unexpected influences in fields as wide-ranging as human disease, evolution and nanotechnology. In fact, through Lindquist’s research, protein misfolding has been implicated as a major mechanism in many severe neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.
Lindquist and her colleagues have developed yeast strains that serve as living test tubes to study these disorders, unraveling how protein folding contributes to them. They have succeeded in reproducing many of the biological consequences of Parkinson’s disease in yeast cells and are screening for drugs to prevent and treat the disease.
Lindquist’s bench work has lead to publishing more than 150 scholarly articles, editing two books, writing more than 50 reviews, and having more than 20 current and pending patents.