SickKids scientist Julie Forman-Kay named Fellow of the Royal Society for disordered protein research
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) scientist Julie Forman-Kay was named a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society for her contributions to scientific understanding of the dynamic structure, interactions and functions of disordered proteins.
The Royal Society recognizes and supports excellence in the scientific field and encourages the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. Fellows of the Royal Society are selected for their outstanding contributions to scientific understanding.
Forman-Kay is a Program Head and Senior Scientist in the Molecular Medicine program, Co-Director of the Structural & Biophysical Core Facility, and a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. A major focus of the Forman-Kay lab has been the development of methodology and tools to facilitate structural and bioinformatic studies of intrinsically disordered proteins (i.e., proteins that do not form stable structures) and regions (IDRs), which play a critical biological role in regulation of signaling pathways and other cellular processes. IDRs make up about a third of protein sequences and are found in regulatory proteins implicated in disease, including cancers and neurological disorders.
Since joining SickKids in 1992, her work has led to scientific understanding of the importance of disordered proteins and linked their dynamic properties and biological function, providing a foundation for future novel therapeutic approaches.
“I want to congratulate Julie Forman-Kay on this exceptional achievement and recognition of her contributions to our understanding of the biophysics of disordered protein interactions that regulate essential cellular processes. She is an international pioneer in her field and her work has fundamentally changed the structure-function paradigm in cell biology. We are proud to have Julie call SickKids home, and her research at SickKids Research Institute continues to break new ground,” says Gabrielle Boulianne, Chief of Research (Acting), SickKids.
The Forman-Kay lab has characterized dynamic complexes of a number of disordered proteins, changing the understanding of mechanisms of regulatory protein interactions. The lab has also helped characterize the phase separation of disordered protein regions, helping to develop a new field that links biophysics and cell biology. This includes the study of effects of post-translational modification on phase behaviour and how phase separation regulates biology and its implications for disease. Her research team also has an interest in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), including its disordered regulatory R region.
Forman-Kay was one of 60 new Fellows and Foreign Members selected by the Royal Society this year, and was previously named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2016. Learn more about the scientists recognized this year on the Royal Society website.