Katsuhiko Murakami, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of two Eberly College of Science faculty members to receive this honor this year. Election as a Fellow is an honor bestowed by peers upon members of the AAAS, the world's largest general scientific society and the publisher of the journal Science. Murakami was recognized for outstanding contributions in the field of structural biology, particularly in examining the role of RNA polymerase in bacterial and archaeal gene regulation.
Murakami’s research is centered on understanding the mechanism of gene expression, the fundamental process of how the genetic code is used in cells, which is critical to development and to understanding diseases in all organisms. He is particularly interested in how information stored in genomic DNA is transcribed into RNA by the enzyme RNA polymerase – the first step and the key control point in gene expression and one of the most fundamental processes required for life. His laboratory applies X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy techniques to reveal three-dimensional structures of bacterial, archaeal, and bacteriophage RNA polymerases for elucidating the mechanisms of RNA transcription and its regulation as well as investigating the mechanism of antibiotic action targeting bacterial RNA polymerase.
Murakami was selected as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts, a national philanthropy based in Philadelphia in 2005. He is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Crystallographic Association, Biophysical Society, and the AAAS.
Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Murakami was a postdoctoral research fellow and research associate at The Rockefeller University from 1998 to 2003. He also was a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Genetics in Japan from 1997 to 1998. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1992 and a master’s degree in chemistry in 1994 at the Yamaguchi University in Japan. He earned a doctoral degree in genetics at The Graduate University for Advanced Studies in Japan in 1997.
Murakami will be formally inducted into the AAAS at their virtual annual meeting this winter.
AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For additional information visit the AAAS website.