Rafi Kopan named to Wolff professorship

One of two professorships named for long-term supporters of biomedical research at Washington University. Read More

Two leading members of the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have been named Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professors in their respective fields. Raphael Kopan, PhD, has been named the Wolff Professor of Developmental Biology, and David Sibley, PhD, has been named the Wolff Professor of Molecular Microbiology.

Kopan and Sibley were installed as Wolff Professors by Wrighton and Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“Raphael Kopan’s research is revealing new details of how an important protein guides the development of many of the body’s tissues,” Shapiro says. “David Sibley studies a common parasite’s role in causing illness, helping develop new insights into its deadly microbial sibling, the malaria parasite.”

Kopan earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1981 and a master’s degree in zoology in 1984, both from Tel Aviv University. He later earned a doctorate in molecular genetics and cell biology at the University of Chicago.

After postdoctoral training at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, he came to Washington University in St. Louis as an assistant professor of medicine and of molecular biology and pharmacology. Kopan studies a protein called Notch that is instrumental in guiding embryonic cells’ development into the body’s many tissue types. Because Notch is present in so many cell types, Kopan’s lab has contributed to medical research across an array of disciplines, from Alzheimer’s disease to asthma to cancer.

“It’s a wonderful honor to be receiving this Wolff professorship,” Kopan says. “I’m grateful that Alan and Edith Wolff chose to help ensure that creative activity in biomedical research continues.”

For more from Julia Evangelou Strait of the WUSTL Newsroom, click here.

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Posted on November 2, 2011
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