Professor Randy Schekman ForMemRS
Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and HHMI Investigator, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Using a brilliantly conceived genetic screen, Schekman isolated sec mutants that accumulate secretory pathway intermediates, he cloned the corresponding genes and he established biochemical reactions that faithfully reproduced specific secretory pathway events. These studies transformed the secretion field, previously descriptive and morphological, into a molecular and mechanistic one. The cell-free reactions that Schekman established led to his isolation of the Sec61 translocation complex, the (COPII) vesicle coat complex, and the first purified inter-organelle transport vesicles. The Sec proteins are strikingly conserved and the trafficking mechanisms that Schekman discovered are at the heart of neurotransmission, hormone secretion, cholesterol homeostasis and metabolic regulation.