Recent Posts

Archives

Topics

Meta

Bio

Ron Wetzel grew up in south-central Pennsylvania and attended Drexel University in Philadelphia as an undergraduate chemistry major.  He earned his PhD in physical organic chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1973, where, under the direction of George Kenyon, he investigated mechanisms of positional interchange at pentacoordinate phosphorus – a process potentially important to chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis of biological phosphates such as ATP and nucleic acids.  He did postdoctoral work with Fritz Eckstein at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Goettingen, Germany, and with Dieter Soell at Yale University, on affinity labeling of enzymes using ATP or tRNA as substrates.  In 1978 he joined Genentech, which just that year had moved out of the university and into its own research space in South San Francisco.  He remained with the company for 11 years, contributing to the insulin, interferon, and immunoglobulin recombinant expression projects, to the recognition of the importance of protein folding, misfolding and aggregation in such projects, and to the development of general methods for dealing with these problems.  He also did pioneering work on protein engineering of disulfide bonds and on amino acid sequence control of inclusion body formation.  In 1989 he moved to SmithKline Beecham, where he continued to focus on his interest in biologically relevant protein misfolding and aggregation, as manifested in both bacterial inclusion body formation and mammalian aggregation diseases such as peripheral amyloidosis and Alzheimer’s Disease.  In 1997 he moved to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and while there developed research programs in the assembly mechanisms and structures of amyloid and other aggregates, focusing on diseases like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases.  In 2006 he transported his lab and his research interests to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where he has a primary appointment in the Structural Biology Department, and also has laboratory space in the Pittsburgh Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases.  He is a member of the training faculty of the Molecular Biophysics and Structural Biology (MBSB), Center for Neuroscience (CNUP), and Molecular Pharmacology graduate programs.