James Spudich

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James Spudich
Alma materUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Known forMolecular motors
AwardsE. B. Wilson Medal (2011)
Albert Lasker Award (2012)
Wiley Prize in Biomedical Science (2012)
Scientific career
FieldsBiochemistry, Biophysics
InstitutionsStanford University
Doctoral advisorArthur Kornberg
Other academic advisorsJohn Woodland Hastings, Hugh Huxley

James A. Spudich is an American scientist and professor. He is the Douglass M. and Nola Leishman Professor of Biochemistry and of Cardiovascular Disease at Stanford University and works on the molecular basis of muscle contraction. He was awarded the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 2012 with Michael Sheetz and Ronald Vale. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.


He was born in Benld, Illinois of Croatian ancestry.[1] He earned his B.S. in chemistry from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked in John Woodland Hastings's lab on the topic of bioluminescence, and helped Hastings teach in the physiology course at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole. He earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Stanford University under the guidance from Arthur Kornberg. He later did his postdoctoral research at Stanford University with Charles Yanofsky and at MRC in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology with Hugh Huxley.[2]

His research is focused on studying molecular motors particularly myosin. With Huxley, he started working on an actin/myosin/ATP model for molecular motors,[3][4] proposing that myosin would ratchet actin and exert a stroke.[5] Spudich first attempted to create an in vitro setup with actin and myosin. However, he faced great difficulty aligning actin filaments.[2] In 1982 he and Michael Sheetz started to work on the alga Nitella, which has long oriented actin fibers, and observed myosin coated beads moving along actin filaments.[6] This provided strong clues about the molecular transport of intracellular cargo, later refined to observing a single step of a single myosin molecule.[7] His research and its place in the overal development of the motility field has been described in a number of well-cited review articles.[8][9][10]

He started at UCSF and then came to Stanford as a professor of Structural biology in 1977. In 1992 he switched to the Department of Biochemistry. In the late 1990s, he joined with Stanford physicist Steven Chu to create an interdisciplinary research program that combines engineering, physics, and biology — launching the Stanford University Bio-X Initiative and physically locates investigators from these distinct disciples together for extended periods.[11] They pitched the concept to Stanford Provost Condoleezza Rice.[12]

In 1998 Spudich co-founded Cytokinetics Inc. in San Francisco, along with Ron Vale and James Sabry from UCSF and Larry Goldstein from UCSD.[13] He was the president of the American Society for Cell Biology in 1989.


He met his wife Annamma ("Anna") when they were both at the Marine Biology Lab with Hastings. They have two daughters, and five grandchildren.[11] Spudich's long-time recreational hobby is flying small planes.[12]



  1. ^ Zubrinic, Darko. "James Spudich American scientist of Croatian roots recipient of the Lasker Award for biochemistry". Crown. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b Spudich, JA (November 2011). "Molecular motors: forty years of interdisciplinary research". Molecular Biology of the Cell. 22 (21): 3936–9. doi:10.1091/mbc.E11-05-0447. PMC 3204054. PMID 22039067.
  3. ^ Spudich JA, Watt S (1971). "The Regulation of Rabbit Skeletal Muscle Contraction". Journal of Biological Chemistry. 246 (15): 4866–4871. PMID 4254541.
  4. ^ Spudich JA, Huxley HE, Finch J (1972). "Regulation of skeletal muscle contraction. II. Structural studies of the interaction of the tropomyosin-troponin complex with actin". Journal of Molecular Biology. 72: 619–632. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(72)90180-5.
  5. ^ Strauss, Evelyn. "Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award". Lasker Foundation. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  6. ^ Sheetz, Michael P.; Spudich, James A. (5 May 1983). "Movement of myosin-coated fluorescent beads on actin cables in vitro". Nature. 303 (5912): 31–35. doi:10.1038/303031a0. PMID 6682486.
  7. ^ Finer JT, Simmons RM, Spudich JA (1994). "Single myosin molecule mechanics: piconewton forces and nanometre steps". Nature. 368 (6467): 113–119. doi:10.1038/368113a0. PMID 8139653.
  8. ^ Clarke M, Spudich JA (1977). "Nonmuscle contractile proteins: the role of actin and myosin in cell motility and shape determination". Annual Review of Biochemistry. 46: 797–822. doi:10.1146/annurev.bi.46.070177.004053.
  9. ^ Warrick HM, Spudich JA (1987). "Myosin structure and function in cell motility". Annual Review of Cell Biology. 3: 379–421. doi:10.1146/annurev.cb.03.110187.002115.
  10. ^ Robinson DN, Spudich JA (2000). "Towards a molecular understanding of cytokinesis". Trends in Cell Biology. 10: 228–237. doi:10.1016/S0962-8924(00)01747-5. PMID 10802538.
  11. ^ a b Spudich JA (2012). "One path to understanding energy transduction in biological systems". Nature Medicine. 18: viii–xii. doi:10.1038/nm.2924. PMC 4799657. PMID 23042356.
  12. ^ a b Goldman, Bruce (10 September 2012). "Lasker Award goes to biochemist James Spudich". Inside Stanford Medicine. Archived from the original on 21 September 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2012.
  13. ^ "Cytokinetics, Inc. Formed To Leverage Cytoskeleton For Drug Discovery And Bioinformatics". Archived from the original on 2012-03-14.

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