John Walker is director of the Medical Research
Councils Dunn Human Nutrition Unit at Cambridge University.
Walkers work focuses on the physical structure of enzymes,
and how that structure determines the way enzymes work. In
particular, Walker is interested in the enzymes that control
energy metabolism. He shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
with Paul Boyer for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism
underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Walkers early research in the mid-1970s
analyzed the sequences of the proteins from the bacteriophage
G4 and from mitochondria. This led to the discovery of triple
over-lapping genes in G4 (with D. Shaw and B.G. Barrell) and
to the discovery that subunits I and II of cytochrome c oxidase
were encoded in the DNA in mitochondria. He also helped to
uncover the modified genetic code in mitochondria.
During the work on mitochondria, he developed
an interest in the enzyme complexes in the inner membrane
of the organelle that carry out oxidative phosphorylation,
and in 1978 he began a structural study of the ATP synthase
from bovine heart mitochondria. This work eventually resulted
in a complete sequence analysis of the complex and in an atomic
resolution structure of the F1 catalytic domain of the enzyme.
Walker received a bachelors degree
in chemistry in 1964. Then he began research on peptide antibiotics
with E.P. Abraham in the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology,
Oxford, and was awarded the D.Phil. degree in 1969. This was
followed by a period of five years working abroad: from 1969
to 1971 at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin,
and from 1971 to 1974 in Paris. In 1974, he moved to the Protein
and Nucleic Acid Chemistry Division of the Laboratory of Molecular
Biology in Cambridge, where he became a member of the scientific
staff. He became senior scientist in 1982, received a special
appointment (professorial grade) in 1987 and was named director
of the Medical Research Councils Dunn Human Nutrition
Unit in 1998.
Walker was elected a fellow of the Royal
Society in 1995. He was awarded the Johnson Foundation Prize
by the University of Pennsylvania in 1994 and the CIBA Medal
and Prize of the Biochemistry Society in 1996. In 1997, he
was elected a Fellow of Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge,
and became an Honorary Fellow of St. Catherines College,
Oxford. He received a Knighthood in 1999 and was named an
honorary member of the British Physical Society in 2000.
For additional information, please call
Ms. Gloria Phipps at (212) 327-8967