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Kenneth Johnson Named Fellow of Biophysical Society

Kenneth Johnson Named Fellow of Biophysical Society

Molecular Biosciences professor Kenneth Johnson has been named a 2019 Society Fellow of The Biophysical Society for his influential research and support of biophysics.

Kenneth Johnson

Johnson is one of seven researchers from universities and institutes around the U.S. and the world to be named 2019 Society Fellows. Fellows, nominated by colleagues, are named for their contributions to science and the expansion of the field of biophysics, which applies theories and methods used in physics to study biological systems.

Johnson began his involvement with the society in graduate school, when he presented his first talk. His research, which has focused on the range of mechanisms that allow components to move around within cells, has included DNA polymerase mechanisms involved in infectious disease treatment for the past twenty years. Because polymerases, the enzymes that synthesize DNA and RNA, work quickly, they require special techniques to study.

"An example is HIV reverse transcriptase," Johnson said, referring to the process the virus uses to convert its RNA into DNA. "It's not the fastest, but it polymerases 30 nucleotides per second. That means it copies thirty times in one second. To study those reactions we have to look on a timescale of 1/30th of a second."

To capture these fast reactions, the Johnson Lab has developed methods and instruments for a technique known as transient kinetic analysis, sold through Johnson's company KinTek Corporation. His creation of the analytic instruments and software, along with his role in establishing the mechanistic basis of DNA polymerase selectivity, have led to collaborations with colleagues around the world. His recent work has demonstrated that the potency of a common class of HIV/AIDS drugs, called nucleoside analogs, correlates with their rates of incorporation by the host's mitochondrial DNA polymerase.

The fellows will be honored at the awards ceremony during the Biophysical Society's 63rd annual meeting in March 2019 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

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