Andreas Engel, professor of pharmacology, recently was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Aarhus University in Denmark for his outstanding research work in investigating the structure of membrane proteins.
Engel was presented with an honorary doctorate in health sciences during the annual celebration of the founding of Aarhus University on Sept. 14.
Through more than 25 years of research at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, Engel focused on the investigation of aquaglyceroporin proteins, which form channels in the cell membrane transporting water and small organic molecules across the membrane. His work on the elucidation of the structure of human aquaporin-1 together with Peter Agre (Baltimore) and Yoshinori Fujioshi (Kyoto) led to the first determination of the atomic structure of a water channel membrane protein. Today, working together with the Aarhus University, he is addressing the challenging question of how aquaporin-2 is regulated in the human kidney, in order to maintain water balance.
Using electron crystallography, atomic force microscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy techniques, Engel also studied two-dimensional crystals from membrane proteins and lipids. In the process, he made a significant contribution to the initial studies determining the 3-D structure of the bacterial porin OmpF and to the development of the technology for the 2-D crystallization of membrane proteins.
After reaching the status of emeritus professor at the University of Basel in 2010, Engel joined the faculty at Case Western Reserve, where he is involved in building a new microscopy center at the Cleveland Center for Structural and Membrane Biology.