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May 2023 QCB Newsletter

Announcement: QCB's Helen Berman elected to NAS | May 2023


Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology


The Department of Quantitative and Computational Biology is proud to announce that earlier today one of their core faculty members, Professor Helen M. Berman has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


I congratulate Professor Berman on behalf of all students, staff, and faculty. This is a wonderful achievement that comes on top of many honors that Professor Berman received for contributions to the field of computational and structural biology.


Helen joined the QCB Department in January 2023 just in time for this announcement. She first came to USC to spend a sabbatical in my lab and published two papers with us in 2017 and 2020. Helen is also a member of the Bridge Institute.


Helen co-founded the Protein Data Bank (PDB) that stores all experimentally solved structures of molecules and their complexes. The PDB enabled the major AI-driven breakthrough that we have all heard about – AlphaFold, a method developed by Google’s DeepMind that predicts the three-dimensional structures or folds of all existing proteins from their amino acid sequence. This work would not have been possible without Helen’s groundbreaking contributions. Many researchers agree that AlphaFold solved the long-standing protein folding problem. This is an example where AI contributes to solving questions in biology, engineering, and medicine.


Helen was elected a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018 and a Fellow of the International Society for Computational Biology in 2016. She received the Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences in 2014, the DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2013, and the Carl Brändén Award from the Protein Society in 2012.


Dr. Berman is a Board of Governors Professor Emerita of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Helen broke many glass ceilings for women in science. And Helen is and always has been a passionate mentor to junior faculty and students.


Congratulations to Helen on behalf of the QCB Department, its friends and associates.


Remo Rohs, Ph.D.

QCB Department Chair



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