2022 Sackler Prize in Biophysics

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Prof. Shimon Weiss

Biophysicist Professor Shimon Weiss has been selected as one of two awardees of the 2022 Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Biophysics. 

The Sackler Prize in Biophysics, which is awarded annually to leading biophysicists worldwide, was established by arts and sciences philanthropists Dr. Raymond R. Sackler and Mrs. Beverly Sackler to encourage dedication to science, originality and excellence in the field of biophysics. The second awardee is Professor Samuel (Sam) Safran from the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The field for this year’s prize was “Physical Principles of Biological Systems”.  A $100,000 prize will be shared equally between the laureates and they will be honored at the Sackler Prize ceremony and symposium on May 30, 2022, at Tel Aviv University.   

Professor Shimon Weiss is being honored for his seminal contributions to single molecule biophysics, that include, among others, the introduction of the single-molecule FRET (smFRET) method that ushered the transition from ‘static structural biology’ to ‘dynamical structural biology’, and the introduction of quantum dots as biological and powerful probes for multiplexed detection and single molecule imaging. 

Weiss holds UCLA’s Dean M. Willard Chair in Chemistry, and is a professor in the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, a professor of physiology in the David Geffen School of Medicine, and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. In 2016 Weiss joined the Physics department at Bar Ilan University, Israel (BIU). He is one of the founders of the fields of single-molecule biophysics and bionanotechnology.

Weiss’ research group has made pioneering breakthroughs in developing methods and technologies to study dynamical changes in proteins and high sensitivity, superresolution optical imaging of biological structures. Weiss’ research group at UCLA, which is made up of chemists, biochemists, biologists, physicists, and engineers is developing and applying cutting-edge techniques from fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and biological imaging to studying one of life’s most important class of molecules: proteins, and image and study their actions in live cells and whole organisms. At BIU, Weiss and his colleagues focus on the development of nanoparticles for measuring electrical signals in brain research. These studies could possibly make important contributions as they allow for superresolution recording of electrical signals from individual synapses (“edge” area where information is transmitted between one nerve end and the next). 

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.