Dorothee Kern is a Professor of Biochemistry at Brandeis University and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Kern strives to understand how proteins function by understanding how they move. She uses biophysical analytical methods, in particular nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), to analyze protein dynamics. Using NMR, she has followed the high speed motion of enzymes during catalysis and provided unexpected insights into how conformational change can speed up biological reactions. She has recently expanded the concept of protein motion to the evolution of proteins over billions of years by reconstructing evolutionary trajectories in vitro. Kern pursues a new vision of protein dynamics and allosteric networks at the heart of improved drug design with the mission of exploiting protein dynamics for expanding therapeutics.
Kern received her BS, MS and PhD in biochemistry from Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany. Before moving to California for her post-doc at UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Kern played on the German National Basketball team for ten years. In 1999, Kern joined the faculty of Brandeis University and transferred her leadership skills from the basketball court to the lab.
Kern’s insights into protein dynamics and function have been recognized with the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry and the Dayhoff and National Lecture Awards from the Biophysical Society.