Resume of Past Research
A highly multidisciplinary biophysical approach has been adopted in the study of proteins and lipids in model and natural membranes. This work has been in three productive phases, beginning with graduate work on thermodynamic studies of lipids in liposomal and model systems (Astbury Department of Biophysics, Leeds, 1972 - 1975), followed by post-doctoral research into structural and functional studies of the molecular specificity of lipid-protein in membranes (Max Plank Institute for Biophysics, Göttingen, Germany, 1976 - 1980). Since returning to an independent faculty position in Oxford (1980), new methodologies have been developed, initially around wide-line NMR (1980-2000) but then high resolution solid state NMR (1994-2009) for the study of biomolecular systems with specific application for resolving high resolution (sub-Å) structural and dynamic details of ligand- and drug-receptor interactions in the absence of other structural information (Watts, 2005, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 4, 555-568; invited review). During this time, most biophysical methods have been employed, and resulting publications include the use of NMR, ESR, ultracentrifugation, diffraction/scattering (X-ray, optical and neutron), differential scanning calorimetry, electron microscopy, CD, FRET, ATIR, membrane protein crystallizations, SPR, peptide synthesis and computational approaches, as well as molecular biology for expression, mutagenesis, in-gel fluorescence, PCR, fermentation, directed isotope labelling and novel membrane protein reconstitutions. The general approach is thus to address a system in a “hypothesis driven” approach aimed at understanding biology with a range of appropriate methods, rather than specialize in one method.
Research highlights (1972 - 1980)
Some notable achievements since 1980:
More than 310 papers and reviews have been published, over 60% of which are in high impact journals (Nature, Nature Str. Biol., PNAS, JACS, Science, Biophysical Journal, Biochemistry, etc) and invited talks (averaging 15 per year since 1995) have been presented at most of the relevant major international meetings. H-index=55; >9900 citations, according to Google Scholar Profile.
58 graduate students have been trained in the laboratory, and over 80 post-docs have been employed at various times.
International and national recognition has been in the form of several medals, awards and named lectures.2015 Royal Society of Chemistry Interdisciplinary Prize ; 2015 Biophysical Society Anantrace Membrane Protein Award and Prize; XXV Godnev Annual Lecture and Award, National Academy of Sciences, Belarus (2014); “Frontiers in Sciences” Lecturer (2008), Texas A&M University, USA; Distinguished Professor, Kyun-won University, Seoul, Korea (2004); International Advisor, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) (2004 on); Hascoe Medal Lecturer, University of Connecticut, USA (2004); Royal Society of Chemistry Award for Biomembrane Chemistry for 2001; Moses Gomberg Lecturer, University of Michigan, USA (2001); Wilsmore Fellowship to the School of Chemistry, University of Melbourne, Australia (2000); The 1998 ANZMAG Lecturer; The Biochemical Society (UK) Morton Lecturer (1999); The Pfizer Lecture, University of Sheffield (1992); SERC-CNRS Maxime Hanss Prize for Biophysics (1992); Fulbright Scholarship (1987/88); 350th Commemorative Medal, Helskini University, Finland (1990).