Pamela Björkman to Receive a Major International Award Recognizing Outstanding Women Scientists

Pamela Björkman, the David Baltimore Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology and a Merkin Institute Professor, has been named the recipient of the 2021 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, a major international award recognizing outstanding women scientists. The award is presented by The Rockefeller University in New York. Dr. Björkman is being recognized for “discovering key aspects of the immune system that are helping to direct better treatment for infection from viruses and other diseases.” The prize includes a $100,000 honorarium.

When Professor Björkman was a graduate student and postdoctoral investigator at Harvard University in the 1980s, she mastered the arduous techniques of X-ray crystallography to reveal the molecular architecture of a major histocompatibility complex protein, a key component of the immune system. This essential breakthrough provided structural information that has helped to explain how the immune system distinguishes self from non-self — information that is key to understanding autoimmunity, transplant rejection, and pathogen recognition.

Dr. Björkman’s research uses crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, and biochemistry to study the atomic structures of proteins that mediate the immune system’s interactions with viruses such as HIV and, recently, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Her discoveries are expanding the horizons of fundamental biology while fueling the development of new therapies and preventive measures for a range of challenging health conditions.

Professor Björkman has taught at Caltech since 1989 and was promoted to full professor in 1998. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon and earned her Ph.D. at Harvard University.

Filed Under: Awards


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply