Michael F. Brown

Michael Brown is a leading authority on the use of solid-state NMR spectroscopy and related biophysical methods to study liquid crystals, membranes lipids, and membrane proteins.  He has devoted much of his career to discovering the mechanisms underlying key cellular processes in terms of fundamental principles as they occur over a range of length and times scales.  His experimental work involves molecular spectroscopy combined with computational and theoretical work aimed at revealing how molecular dynamics and structure involving both proteins and membrane lipids underlie biomembrane functions. He is a keen advocate of both experimental and computational studies for making discoveries that could not be achieved by either alone.  Brown has contributed key ideas and discoveries to several areas of chemistry and biophysics.  They range from introducing deuterium NMR spectroscopy for measuring the order parameters of biomolecules to uncovering the effects of cholesterol, ions, and osmotic stress on membrane properties; from experimentally measuring the magnetic-field dependence of the NMR relaxation rates of membrane lipids and proteins to developing a comprehensive theoretical interpretation in terms of molecular dynamics; from experimental measurements of solid-state NMR spectra and relaxation times of ligands bound to rhodopsin to quantum chemical calculations and development of force fields in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and from investigations of protein-lipid interactions in biomembranes to developing a flexible surface model (FSM) for membrane lipid bilayers that explains their roles in key cellular functions.  Brown's work has produced over 220 publications, and has been cited more than 6,000 times (Google Scholar) as of 2013.  He is committed to educating the next scientific generation, and works with many graduate students and postdoctoral scientists worldwide.
Michael Brown holds an A.B. degree (1970) and a Ph.D. degree (1975) from the University of California at Santa Cruz.  He was a U.S. National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Switzerland and the Max-Planck Institute for Medical Research, Germany from 1976 to 1979.  He was on the faculty of the University of Virginia from 1980 to 1987.  He came to the University of Arizona in 1988 as professor of chemistry, where he has currently joint appointments in the physics department and applied mathematics program. Brown's honors and awards include: the Avanti Award in Lipids of the Biophysical Society (2014); Fellow of the Biophysical Society (2013); Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012); Fellow of American Physical Society (2011); Fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2003); Senior Fulbright Fellow (Italy) (2000); Röntgen-Professorship of Physics (Germany) (1999); U.S. National Institutes of Health Research Career Development Award (1985); Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow (1983); U.S. National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of California at Berkeley (1979); and U.S. National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Basel, Switzerland (1976).


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         Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry                             Narrative Description
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