Urbana, Ill. Stephen Sligar, a Cancer Center at Illinois researcher and faculty member in the Department of Chemistry, has been selected as a Vallee Visiting Professor to pursue collaborative research at the University of Oxford, focusing on protein-protein and protein-lipid recognition events involved in KRas4b cancer signaling.

Sligar was one of the very first Vallee Visiting Professors in 1999. Considered the signature program of the Vallee Foundation, 71 VVPs have been appointed to one-month sabbaticals, traveling to laboratories in Europe, the United States, Australia, Israel, and Singapore.

Recently, the Vallee Foundation offered scientifically active VVPs, with a concrete research collaborative goal, the opportunity to apply for a second, one-month sabbatical. Four scientists, including Sligar, will be heading overseas in the next year or two to further their research and to establish new, or strengthen existing, collaborations.

Sligar will return to the Chemistry Department and Kavli Institute at the University of Oxford, where he will be hosted by Professor Dame Carol Robinson. There, Sligar hopes to explore the application of mass spectrometry to the supramolecular complexes interacting with Nanodiscs, true nanoscale bilayer membranes rendered soluble in aqueous solution by two encircling amphipathic helical protein belts. Of particular interest are the protein-protein and protein-lipid recognition events that are involved in KRas4b cancer signaling.

Sligar’s research focuses on discovering, developing and using chemical and biophysical tools to understand fundamental problems in protein biochemistry and biophysics. His development of nanodisc technology, which are patches of lipid membrane stabilized by a ‘belt’ of membrane scaffolding proteins, has enabled the study of signaling proteins and macromolecular complexes that rely on a membrane. The technology has been used by hundreds of laboratories, benefitting the field of protein science.

Sligar received his PhD in Physics from the University of Illinois in 1975 and returned to the university as a faculty member in 1982 after serving on the faculty in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. He is a previous Director of the School of Chemical Sciences and previous Director of the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology. He is a research professor in the Department of Chemistry, professor in the Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology, and a Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry.

Originally named the Bert L & N Kuggie Vallee Foundation Inc., the Boston-based foundation was created in 1996 to promote a collegial community of international scientists, to enhance scientific collaboration and communication, and to advance medical education and biomedical research. This was initially achieved by sponsoring short-term Vallee Visiting Professorships (VVPs) at institutions with which Bert Vallee had developed close collaborations and biennial meetings of this group of biomedical scientists.


– Written by the Department of Chemistry

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