People Behind the Science Podcast - Stories from Scientists about Science, Life, Research, and Science Careers
607: Unraveling the Roles and Therapeutic Potential of the Enzymes that Translate our Genetic Code - Dr. Paul Schimmel
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Dr. Paul Schimmel is Professor of Molecular Medicine and of Chemistry at Scripps Research Institute. He also holds an appointment with the Institute for Advanced Study at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, is the author of a widely used three volume textbook on biophysical chemistry, and is a co-founder or founding director of eleven biotechnology companies that develop new therapies for human diseases and disorders. Though Paul began his studies intent on becoming a medical doctor, he became fascinated by the fields of biophysics and biophysical chemistry along the way. His research answers fundamental questions about the origin of life and the genetic code. In his work with a variety of biotech companies, Paul is also translating his laboratory research to create new medicines that leverage key processes, mechanisms, and molecules employed naturally by our bodies. When he’s not hard at work, Paul loves getting out on the water on his powerboat. For over two decades, he and his wife have enjoyed exploring the islands and coasts of the Pacific Northwest. Paul earned his B.A. in Pre-Medicine from Ohio Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics at MIT. He did a short postdoc at Stanford before joining the faculty at MIT. Paul served on the faculty at MIT for 30 years, and prior to coming to Scripps, he was the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Department of Biology there. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards and honors, including being named an elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors. In addition, Paul received the American Chemical Society's 2020 Kathryn C. Hach Award for Entrepreneurial Success, the 2020 Scientist of the Year Award from the San Diego Chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation, the Harvard University Frank Westheimer Medal, the American Chemical Society's Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry, the Biophysical Society’s Emily M. Gray Award for Significant Contributions to Education in Biophysics, the Chinese Biopharmaceutical Association Brilliant Achievement Award, the Stein and Moore Award of the Protein Society, and an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and the Kellogg School of Science and Technology at Scripps Research. In our interview, Paul shares insights from his life and science.