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Home > Laureates > Timothy J. RICHMOND
2023 WLA Prize Laureates

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"For elucidating the structure of the nucleosome at the atomic level, providing the basis for understanding chromatin, gene regulation, and epigenetics."
The 2023 WLA Prize Laureate in Life Science or Medicine
Professor of Crystallography of Biological Macromolecules (Emeritus), ETH Zürich, Switzerland
About the Laureate

Timothy J. Richmond shares the 2023 WLA Prize in Life Science or Medicine with Karolin Luger and Daniela Rhodes.

Prof. Timothy J. Richmond was born in Corvallis, Oregon, U.S.A. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Biochemistry from Purdue University. His introduction to structural biology began there in Prof. Michael Rossmann's laboratory. For his doctoral degree, he studied protein chemistry and X-ray crystallography with Prof. Fred M. Richards and Prof. Tom Steitz at Yale University, focusing on the then new field of protein-DNA interactions. After his Ph.D., he followed his interest in protein-folding with Prof. Richards and derived the analytical equations for molecular surface area calculation.
In 1978, he joined the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology as a post-doctoral fellow in Sir Aaron Klug's laboratory. Prof. Daniela Rhodes had just made the first crystals of the nucleosome core particle (NCP) there, and Prof. Richmond's project was to solve its structure using X-ray crystallography. At that time, the NCP was twice as large as any structure solved, the crystals diffracted weakly to 7Å resolution and synchrotron-biostructure facilities did not yet exist. With the successful outcome in low-resolution structure determination in 1984, he became an independent investigator and began the work that resulted in the atomic NCP structures.
In 1987, Prof. Richmond became "Professor for the X-ray Crystallography of Biological Macromolecules" at the ETH Zürich. He was joined by talented doctoral and post-doctoral students and together they succeeded in elucidating the atomic NCP structure, first at 2.8Å (1997, Karolin Luger) and eventually at 1.9Å (2002, Curt Davey). Subsequently, the atomic structure enabled his investigation of nucleosome higher-order structure and of a nucleosome-containing remodeling complex. In parallel in his laboratory, the structures of many transcription factor-DNA complexes were determined and an expression system for production of multi-protein complexes was developed.
Prof. Richmond retired in 2019, and in 2020, he obtained Swiss citizenship. 


1966-1970, Bachelor's Degree in Biochemistry, Purdue University, U.S.A.
1970-1975, Ph.D. in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics, Yale University, U.S.A.

Professional Experience

1969-1970, Research Assistant, Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University, U.S.A.
1970-1971, Research Assistant, Department of Biology, Purdue University, U.S.A.
1971-1973, Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, U.S.A.
1975-1978, Postdoctoral Associate with Frederic M. Richards, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, U.S.A.
1978-1980, Postdoctoral Fellow with Sir Aaron Klug, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
1980-1987, Tenured Staff Scientist, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
1987-2014, Professor, Institute for Molecular Biology and Biophysics, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
2005-2009, Vice Chairperson/Chairperson, Department of Biology, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
2014-2019, Professor Emeritus with research laboratory, Institute for Molecular Biology and Biophysics, ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Major Awards and Honors

1984, Max Perutz Major Award (Max Perutz Trust Fund)
1988, Member, Chemische Gesellschaft Zürich
1994, Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1994, Member, International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics
1995, Member, European Molecular Biology Organization
1997, Johnson Foundation Award, University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
2000, Member, Academia Europaea
2002, Louis-Jeantet Prize (Fondation Louis-Jeantet de Médecine)
2004, Member, German National Academy of Science
2006, Marcel Benoist Prize (Marcel Benoist Foundation)
2007, Member, National Academy of Science, U.S.A.
2010, Wilbur Cross Medal, Yale University, U.S.A.
2014, ERC Advanced Grant (European Research Council)

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