Protein folding has been linked to major conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and cystic fibrosis, according to the research of Lila Gierasch ’70.
Gierasch is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the university’s highest teaching honor. Recently named the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, she is the subject of a lengthy profile in The Scientist.
One of the world’s foremost scholars in biochemical research, Gierach's research on amino acids and the processes by which they become complex three-dimensional structures has revealed fascinating results and have implications that could be used for designing therapeutics for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
After graduating summa cum laude from Mount Holyoke College with a major in chemistry, Gierasch earned her doctorate in biophysics from Harvard University.
She looked back at her Mount Holyoke experience with pride. “It was a fantastic place for me,” she said. “It’s a place that encourages women to do whatever they choose and fosters a sense of possibility.”