Dr. Martin Schmeing, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (CSMB) New Investigator Award. This annual award was established by the Society to recognize meritorious research in biochemistry, molecular or cellular biology or genetics in Canada. Beginning in 2017, this has been combined with the previously separate Robert H. Haynes Young Scientist Award in Genetics. To be selected, the recipient must have accomplished outstanding research in one or more of the fields of biochemistry, molecular or cellular biology and must not have more than ten years of independent research experience.

“I’m very excited that my lab’s research is being recognized in this way,” says Dr. Schmeing of being selected for this award. “My lab members and I work hard to gain insight into fundamental questions addressing how therapeutics and green chemicals are made in nature by microbes, and it is great that others also find our research interesting. Past winners of the CSMB New Investigator Award include researchers at the leading edge of science in Canada, and I am honoured to be in their company as this year’s awardee.”

Dr. Schmeing received his BSc from McGill in 1998 before obtaining both his MSc and PhD under Dr. Thomas Steitz at Yale University in 2002 and 2004 respectively. From 2005 to 2010 he carried out postdoctoral research with Dr. V. Ramakrishnan at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at McGill in 2010 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016.

As a leader in the field of protein structure of large and dynamic enzymes, Dr. Schmeing was awarded a Canadian Research Chair in Macromolecular Machines and a Human Frontier Science Program Career Development Award. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Centre for Structural Biology at McGill University.

Since establishing his research program at McGill, his team has published seminal research on elucidating the structures and functions of nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) in leading journals such as Nature and PNAS. NRPSs are large microbial enzymes that synthesize their products through amide bond formation between building block monomers (most commonly amino acids). The chemical and biological properties of these compounds often make them useful to society as therapeutics (antibiotics, antivirals, anti-tumours, and immunosuppressants) as natural green chemicals (emulsifiers, siderophores), and as research tools. Two aspects of particular focus in Dr. Schmeing’s research are the catalytic event which links substrate building blocks, and the manner in which NRPS domains and modules work together in a complicated and productive catalytic cycle.

Congratulations Dr. Schmeing!

May 11, 2017