Manuel Llinás, distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of chemistry in the Penn State Eberly College of Science, has been named the Ernest C. Pollard Professor in Biotechnology in recognition of his research contributions, teaching, and service to the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Eberly College of Science.
“I am very pleased that we can recognize Manuel’s accomplishments and many contributions to Penn State with this well-deserved appointment,” said Tracy Langkilde, the Verne M. Willaman Dean of the Eberly College of Science. “Manuel plays an integral part in the college’s commitment to excellence in all aspects of our mission and we are proud to have him on our faculty.”
The Ernest C. Pollard Professorship in Biotechnology is named in honor of the professor of physics who taught at Penn State from 1961 to 1971 and founded the Department of Biophysics. In 1979 the Department of Biophysics merged with the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry to form the present Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
“I am deeply honored to receive this professorship,” said Llinás, “especially since it was previously held by my esteemed colleague Professor Don Bryant and because biophysics is the area in which I started my scientific explorations and career.”
Llinás studies the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum, with the ultimate goal of identifying ways to disrupt the parasite that can be incorporated into novel therapies against this devastating disease. He combines techniques from functional genomics, transcriptomics, molecular biology, computational biology, biochemistry, and metabolomics to better understand the biology of the malaria parasite. He is particularly interested in gene regulation and metabolism of the parasite during the stage of development that occurs within human red blood cells, when clinical symptoms of the disease occur during infection.
Llinás established and is a co-director of the Huck Center for Malaria Research at Penn State to provide a forum for the numerous researchers at University Park, Hershey Medical Center, and commonwealth campuses working on malaria and its vector, the mosquito. He has mentored a large number of graduate students. He is also the founder and organizer of the weekly Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology faculty lunch seminar series that fosters a sense of scientific community and encourages all faculty members to present their research in a friendly environment to their peers.
Llinás was named distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of chemistry in 2022. He received a Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement from Penn State in 2021, a National Institute of Health Director's New Innovator Award in 2007 and a Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award from the American Society of Microbiology in 2006. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Llinás has authored more than 120 scientific papers and has endeavored to publish his work largely in Open Access journals.
Prior to joining Penn State in 2013, Llinás was an associate professor of molecular biology and a member of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University. He earned a doctoral degree in molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley in 1999 and later was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at San Francisco. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University in 1992.