FSU chemist Brüschweiler awarded prestigious honor

Rafael P. Brüschweiler

A Florida State University professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Rafael P. Brüschweiler, has been elevated to the rank of Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

In bestowing the honor, which was announced in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Science, the AAAS recognized Brüschweiler "for fundamental contributions to methodology and applications of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in combination with computational approaches for the dynamic characterization of proteins in solutions."

In his research, Brüschweiler, who also serves as associate director for biophysics at FSU’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and is a member of the lab’s Science Council, works to increase scientists’ understanding of protein behavior, particularly how proteins interact with other molecules such as proteins, peptides and small ligands. Such an understanding is important for researchers as they attempt to develop new treatments for a variety of diseases.

"Proteins are highly complex molecules that perform a wide range of biological functions in every organism," Bruschweiler said. "Proper function requires the fine interplay between a protein’s structure and its dynamics. In our work, we have shown how such protein behavior can be unraveled at the molecular level by the combined use of nuclear magnetic resonance experiments and sophisticated computational tools.

"I have had the privilege to work with many talented coworkers and great collaborators who have contributed in important ways to our research," he said, adding, "I am delighted to be elected a Fellow of the AAAS."

In conducting his research at FSU’s department of chemistry and biochemistry and at the magnet lab, Brüschweiler has been an innovator in the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology for protein research. NMR is a research tool that utilizes high-powered magnets to measure the strengths, directions and temporary fluctuations of magnetic interactions at the location of essentially each atom in a protein. Brüschweiler’s work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

His work also has led to new NMR spectral processing technology. Working with colleagues, Brüschweiler developed covariance NMR spectroscopy, a technique that allows for the easy identification of individual chemical components in chemical mixtures. This is proving useful, for example, in the emerging biomedical field of metabolomics, the systematic study of the unique chemical "fingerprints" that specific cellular processes leave behind in biological organisms.

"NMR is the bread and butter technique in chemistry, and almost every chemist is likely to use the NMR methodology that Rafael has developed recently," said Naresh Dalal, chairman of the department of chemistry and biochemistry. "Rafael has thus made a major impact on the national and international ranking of our department."

With the addition of Brüschweiler, FSU now has 29 current and emeritus faculty members who are AAAS Fellows.

"Being elected a Fellow of the AAAS is one of the most prestigious honors a scientist can receive," said Kirby Kemper, FSU’s vice president for Research. "Because it is bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers, it symbolizes a rare level of achievement within one’s field. At FSU, we are intensely proud to have so many AAAS Fellows within our ranks."
To view the complete list of AAAS Fellows on the FSU faculty, go to www.fsu.edu/faculty/fachonors.html#aaas.

The AAAS (www.aaas.org) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of Science, which, with an estimated total readership of 1 million, has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world.