Susan Lindquist received her PhD in biology from Harvard in 1976 and was a postdoctoral fellow of the American Cancer Society. She is a member, and the former Director, of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. She is also a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Lindquist is an expert in protein folding, studying the biological phenomena that influence the different shapes that proteins take. Her groundbreaking work has shown how changes in protein conformation affect processes such as stress tolerance, neurodegenerative disease and heredity, and has highlighted the importance of molecular chaperones, proteins whose function is to assist other proteins in achieving proper folding. Her group has pioneered the use of yeast as a discovery platform for new chemical and genetic therapies for neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. She has used a yeast model that recapitulates many of the cell biological consequences of Parkinson’s disease to discover several genes that may underlie an important mechanism of neurodegeneration in that condition.
Previously she was the Albert D. Lasker Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Chicago. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the Institute of Medicine in 2006. Lindquist’s honors also include the Dickson Prize in Medicine, the Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement, and designation by Scientific American as one of the top 50 leaders in business, policy, and research for 2006.