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Andrew Karplus in front of the Memorial Union

Karplus to lead Biochemistry and Biophysics

By Srila Nayak

Photo: Karen Karplus

The College of Science welcomes Distinguished University Professor P. Andrew Karplus as the new Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics effective July 1, 2015. He served as department chair from 2007-2011.

Click for video of lecture, May 21, 2015.
Watch Andy Karplus faculty video profile.

Karplus joined Oregon State’s Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry in 1998. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at Cornell University and did postdoctoral research as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in Freiburg, Germany after completing his Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Washington in 1984.

An extraordinary scientist and an outstanding teacher and mentor, Karplus has earned a reputation as one of the best structural biologists in the world. Last year, he was elected a 2014 Fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific society, in recognition of his impressive contributions to protein structure determination and for improving the analysis of crystallographic data.

Karplus recently joined a long-standing tradition of faculty excellence in the College of Science, when he was named a 2015 OSU Distinguished Professor, the highest designation the university gives to its faculty. Karplus works with a senior research associate and a team of graduate and undergraduate students on the structure-function relationship of a diverse array of proteins, many of which are important to the understanding of problems in human health and agriculture.

College of Science Dean Sastry G. Pantula congratulated Karplus on his appointment and warmly welcomed him to the College’s leadership team.

“Dr. Karplus is committed to seeing the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics strive for excellence in teaching, research and service.” – Sastry Pantula

“He is also committed to enhancing diversity, student success and fostering harmony within the department, in the College and across the university,” said Pantula.

Karplus has made a profound impact in his field, publishing more than 130 papers in premier journals and annually delivering several seminars and talks at meetings. Colleagues describe him as an innovative, rigorous and award-winning teacher, whose accomplishments are accentuated by the highly successful students he has mentored. He also has an extensive service record including service on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and as past department chair.

“I am deeply excited by the chance to work closely with Biochemistry and Biophysics faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students and to make this a great place to work and study and seek to maximize our positive impact.” – Karplus.

“I am also excited to be a part of the School of Life Sciences leadership and to work closely with Virginia Weis [director of the School and head of the Integrative Biology Department] and Jerri Bartholomew [Head of the Microbiology Department] as I see so much potential for strengthening all of our programs and serving our students better through greater collaboration at that level.”

Karplus has garnered additional top awards, including further Alexander von Humboldt Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Chemical Society Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry, the OSU Milton Harris Award for Basic Research, the OSU Sigma Xi Researcher of the Year, the OSU College of Science F.A. Gilfillan Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Science, and just last year the Oregon Medical Research Foundation Discovery Award.

The Oregon Medical Research award citation commended Karplus for his many contributions to biomedical research, including his landmark “floodgate signaling” hypothesis which has strongly influenced research on aging, cancer and obesity-related diseases.