The LSI’s Dr. Filip Van Petegem was recently awarded the 2016 CSMB (Canadian Society for Molecular Sciences) New Investigator Award.
Dr. Van Petegem did his undergraduate and PhD studies at Ghent University, Belgium. There he was trained as a structural biologist, solving crystal structures of extremophilic enzymes in the lab of Jozef Van Beeumen. This work allowed him to peer into the adaptation mechanisms of enzymes to extreme cold and hot temperatures.
In 2002, he joined the laboratory of Daniel Minor at UCSF for postdoctoral work on ion channels. There he produced the first high-resolution structures of voltage-gated calcium channel domains. By combining X-ray crystallography with electrophysiology, he was able to help decipher the mechanisms through which beta subunits and calmodulin regulate this complex membrane protein.
He joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UBC in July 2007, where he received tenure in 2012. His research program focuses on understanding the mechanisms of ion channels in native and diseased states.
A major theme in his lab includes the Ryanodine Receptor, a 2.2MDa calcium release channel located in the ER and SR, and his lab has been able to decipher several allosteric mechanisms of this membrane protein giant. Another theme includes voltage-gated sodium channels, proteins that carry the upstroke of action potentials in excitable cells.
His lab has been funded by the CIHR, the Human Frontiers in Science Program, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.