11th Rodney Porter Memorial Lecture

Prof. Roger Y. Tsien, FRS
(Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego)

Roger Y. Tsien, born in 1952, received his B.A. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard College in 1972. He received his Ph.D. in Physiology in 1977 from the University of Cambridge and remained as a Research Fellow until 1981. He then became an Assistant, Associate, then full Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1989 he moved to the University of California, San Diego, where he is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor in the Depts. of Pharmacology and of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Dr. Tsien is best known for designing and building molecules that either report or perturb signal transduction inside living cells. These molecules, created by organic synthesis or by engineering naturally fluorescent proteins, have enabled many new insights into signaling via calcium, sodium, pH, cyclic nucleotides, nitric oxide, inositol polyphosphates, membrane and redox potential changes, protein phosphorylation, active export of proteins from the nucleus, and gene transcription. He is now developing new ways to target contrast agents and therapeutic agents to tumor cells based on their expression of extracellular proteases.

He was a scientific co-founder of Aurora Biosciences Corporation (1996), which went public in 1997 (ABSC) and was acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals in 2001 (VRTX) for approx. $600M. He was also a scientific co-founder of Senomyx Inc. in 1998, which went public in 2004 (SNMX).

His honors include First Prize in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search (1968), Searle Scholar Award (1983), Artois-Baillet-Latour Health Prize (1995), Gairdner Foundation International Award (1995), Award for Creative Invention from the American Chemical Society (2002), Heineken Prize in Biochemistry and Biophysics (2002), Wolf Prize in Medicine (shared with Robert Weinberg, 2004), Rosenstiel Award (2006), E.B. Wilson Medal of the American Society for Cell Biology (shared with M. Chalfie, 2008), and Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with O. Shimomura and M. Chalfie, 2008). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society.