March 30, 2021
IST Austria Professor Leonid Sazanov awarded Keilin Memorial Medal
The UK Biochemical Society has elected IST Austria Professor Leonid Sazanov as the winner of the Keilin Memorial Medal and Lecture 2022. The structural biologist is advancing the understanding of the structures and mechanisms of large membrane protein complexes from the domain of bioenergetics. Much of his research focused on enzyme NADH: ubiquinone oxidoreductase or complex I, of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. In a 2020 paper in Science his group finally solved the enigmatic coupling mechanism of this molecular machine. His efforts have opened the door for understanding the bases of a range of human diseases arising from mutations in complex I.
Leonid Sazanov: “Keilin lecture and medal is one of the most recognized and important awards in bioenergetics. As I have been working in this field my entire scientific career, I am delighted by this award. It is a great honour to follow in the footsteps of such towering figures as Britton Chance, E.C. Slater and Lars Ernster.”
Leonid Sazanov is a structural biologist and biochemist. He explores structure and function of membrane-embedded energy-transducing molecular machines. Using the bacterial enzyme as a model, Sazanov discovered the first atomic structure of respiratory complex I, an entry point into the respiratory chain. This redox chain of enzymes is responsible for most of the energy production in the cell. After coming to IST Austria in 2015, using new cryo-EM methods, Sazanov determined the first structures of the even larger mammalian complex I, as well as V/A-ATPase, MRP antiporter complex, transhydrogenase and ATP synthase. Prior to joining IST Austria, the scientist of British nationality was a tenured programme leader at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, UK. He is also member of EMBO and the Royal Society.