Ronald Vale

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Ronald David Vale[1]
Ronald Vale in September 2018.jpg
Vale in September 2018
Born (1959-01-11) January 11, 1959 (age 60)[citation needed]
Nationality United States
Alma materMarine Biological Laboratory
Stanford University
University of California, Santa Barbara
Known forResearch in molecular motors, particularly kinesin and dynein
AwardsShaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine (2017)
Massry Prize (2013)
Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2012)
Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences (2012)
Scientific career
Cell Biology
InstitutionsUniversity of California, San Francisco
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
ThesisNerve growth factor receptors and axonal transport (1985)
Doctoral advisorEric Shooter[2]

Ronald David Vale (1959-) is a biochemist and cell biologist. He is a professor at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and the W. K. Hamilton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anesthesia, University of California, San Francisco[3]. His research is focused on molecular motors, particularly kinesin and dynein[4]. He was awarded the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2012 alongside Michael Sheetz and James Spudich, and the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine in 2017 together with Ian R. Gibbons. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was the president of the American Society for Cell Biology in 2012.[5] He has also been an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1995.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Vale was born in Hollywood, California. His mother, Evelyn, was a former actress; his father, Eugene, was a novelist and screenwriter. He finished high school at Hollywood High School. For his grade 10 science project, he set up a laboratory at the basement of his home to investigate the circadian rhythm of bean plants. His guidance counselor contacted Karl Hammer at the University of California, Los Angeles, who allowed Vale to continue his experiments at his laboratory. His guidance counselor also encouraged Vale to submit his work to the Westinghouse Science Talent Search (now the Regeneron Science Talent Search), where he was selected as one of the top 40 students in the US.[2]

Vale is a first-generation university student.[2] He entered the College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology in 1980.[6] During his study, he first worked at the laboratory of C. Fred Fox at the UCLA, and then at Robert Lefkowitz's group at Duke University, earning him two articles published in 1984[7] and 1982[8] respectively.

In 1980, Vale entered an MD/PhD programme at Stanford University, being supervised by Eric Shooter,[2] where he studied the nerve growth factor receptor (also known as the neurotrophic factor receptor).[9] In less than 3 years, he published four articles, essentially securing his PhD degree and allowing him to divert to other research areas.[citation needed] He was interested in the research of Michael Sheetz and James Spudich, who had filmed, with a microscope, myosin-coated beads moving along actin filaments from skeletal muscle. In 1983, they decided to test whether the movement of myosin on actin was the source for organelle transport using the squid giant axon as a model. However, since no squid was caught at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station, following Shooter's approval, they went to the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole instead.[10]

Vale obtained his PhD in neuroscience in 1985, and returned to the Marine Biological Laboratory for postdoctoral research.[6]

Scientific career[edit]

At the Marine Biological Laboratory, Vale and Sheetz worked with Bruce Schnapp and Thomas Reese.[10] They found that organelle transport occurred bidirectionally on a microtubule, not actin filament as Vale had thought, and that this movement was independent of the myosin and actin system.[11] Vale further demonstrated organelles by themselves could not move on microtubules, but movement was observed after adding the cytosol of the axon. This showed the motor protein was not present on microtubules or organelles, but dissolved in the cytosol. He also found cytosol-coated beads moved along microtubules, providing an in vitro microtubule-based motility assay.[12] In 1985, Vale, Sheetz and Reese isolated the motor protein, named it "kinesin", and showed it only moved in one direction towards the N-terminus of microtubules.[13]

Vale did not finish his MD, and joined the University of California, San Francisco as an assistant professor in 1986.[2][6] He was promoted to associate professor in 1992 and then to full professor in 1994.[6] In 1991, he discovered the first protein that severed microtubule in the eggs of African clawed frog.[14] Two years later, he found a microtubule-severing protein in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, and named it "katanin".[15] In 1996, Vale and his team solved the crystal structure of the kinesin motor domain.[16]

Since then, Vale has switched his focus to dynein, a motor protein discovered by Ian R. Gibbons in 1965. Although its discovery occurred 20 years before kinesin, its large size hampered its isolation; research about it was relatively scarce at the time,[10] and was mainly performed by Gibbons and his team.[17] In 2006, Vale isolated dynein from yeast, and elucidated how it walked on muicrotubules.[18] He then worked with Gibbons to determine the structure of the dynein microtubule-binding domain.[19] His team also solved the structure of the dynein motor domain.[20] Vale has extended his research to other fields, including T-cell signalling[21] and RNA biology.[22]


Vale founded iBiology in 2006, a platform of free talks given by leading biologists, speaking about biological principles and their research. In 2009, he established IndiaBioscience, which holds the Yong Investigators' Meeting every year, giving young researchers in India a networking opportunity. He founded ASAPbio in 2015, promoting the use of preprints and an open and transparent peer-review process.[10]

Vale also developed Micro-Manager, a free and open-source microscopy software[23] and Microscopy 4 Kids, a website that promotes digital microscopy to children.[24]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ "Ron Vale". American Society for Cell Biology. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Autobiography of Ronald D Vale". Shaw Prize Foundation. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Ron Vale". University of California, San Francisco. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Vale Lab". University of California, San Francisco. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  5. ^ "ASCB Presidents". American Society for Cell Biology. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d "Biographical Notes of Laureates". Shaw Prize Foundation. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  7. ^ Vale, Ronald D.; Peterson, Scott W.; Matiuk, Nicholas V.; Fox, C. Fred (March 1984). "Purified plasma membranes inhibit polypeptide growth factor-induced DNA synthesis in subconfluent 3T3 cells". Journal of Cell Biology. 98 (3): 1129–1132. doi:10.1083/jcb.98.3.1129. PMC 2113147. PMID 6607925.
  8. ^ Vale, Ronald D.; De Lean, Andre; Lefkowitz, Robert J.; Stadel, Jeffrey M. (November 1982). "Regulation of insulin receptors in frog erythrocytes by insulin and concanavalin A. Evidence for discrete classes of insulin binding sites". Molecular Pharmacology. 22 (3): 619–626. PMID 6759916.
  9. ^ Vale, Ronald D. (5 October 2012). "How lucky can one be? A perspective from a young sci entist at the right place at the right time". Nature Medicine. 18 (10): 1486–1488. doi:10.1038/nm.2925. PMID 23042358.
  10. ^ a b c d Azvolinsky, Anna (2017-09-01). "Motor Man". The Scientist. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  11. ^ Schnapp, Bruce J.; Vale, Ronald D.; Sheetz, Michael P.; Reese, Thomas S. (February 1985). "Single microtubules from squid axoplasm support bidirectional movement of organelles". Cell. 40 (2): 455–462. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(85)90160-6. PMID 2578325.
  12. ^ Vale, Ronald D.; Schnapp, Bruce J.; Reese, Thomas S.; Sheetz, Michael P. (March 1985). "Organelle, bead, and microtubule translocations promoted by soluble factors from the squid giant axon". Cell. 40 (3): 559–569. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(85)90204-1. PMID 2578887.
  13. ^ Vale, Ronald D.; Reese, Thomas S.; Sheetz, Michael P. (August 1985). "Identification of a Novel Force-Generating Protein, Kinesin, Involved in Microtubule-Based Motility". Cell. 42 (1): 39–50. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(85)80099-4. PMC 2851632. PMID 3926325.
  14. ^ Vale, Ronald D. (22 February 1991). "Severing of stable microtubules by a mitotically activated protein in Xenopus egg extracts". Cell. 64 (4): 827–839. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(91)90511-V. PMID 1671762.
  15. ^ McNally, Francis J.; Vale, Ronald D. (3 November 1993). "Identification of katanin, an ATPase that severs and disassembles stable microtubules". Cell. 75 (3): 419–429. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(93)90377-3. PMID 8221885.
  16. ^ Kull, F. Jon; Sablin, Elena P.; Lau, Rebecca; Fletterick, Robert J.; Vale, Ronald D. (11 April 1996). "Crystal structure of the kinesin motor domain reveals a structural similarity to myosin". Nature. 380 (6574): 550–555. doi:10.1038/380550a0. PMID 8606779.
  17. ^ Gibbons, Ian R.; Fronk, Earl (1 April 1975). "Some properties of bound and soluble dynein from sea urchin sperm flagella". Journal of Cell Biology. 54 (2): 365–381. doi:10.1083/jcb.54.2.365. PMID 4261148.
  18. ^ Reck-Peterson, Samara L.; Yildiz, Ahmet; Carter, Andrew P.; Gennerich, Arne; Zhang, Nan; Vale, Ronald D. (28 July 2006). "Single-molecule analysis of dynein processivity and stepping behavior". Cell. 126 (2): 335–348. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2006.05.046. PMID 16873064.
  19. ^ Carter, Andrew P.; Garbarino, Joan E.; Wilson-Kubalek, Elizabeth M.; Shipley, Wesley E.; Cho, Carol; Milligan, Ronald A.; Vale, Ronald D.; Gibbons, Ian R. (12 December 2008). "Structure and Functional Role of Dynein's Microtubule-Binding Domain". Science. 322 (5908): 1691–1695. doi:10.1126/science.1164424. PMID 19074350.
  20. ^ Carter, Andrew P.; Cho, Carol; Jin, Lan; Vale, Ronald D. (4 March 2011). "Crystal Structure of the Dynein Motor Domain". Science. 331 (6021): 1159–1165. doi:10.1126/science.1202393. PMID 21330489.
  21. ^ James, John R.; Vale, Ronald D. (5 July 2012). "Biophysical Mechanism of T Cell Receptor Triggering in a Reconstituted System". Nature. 487 (7405): 64–69. doi:10.1038/nature11220. PMC 3393772. PMID 22763440.
  22. ^ Jain, Ankur; Vale, Ronald D. (8 June 2017). "RNA Phase Transitions in Repeat Expansion Disorders". Nature. 546 (7657): 243–247. doi:10.1038/nature22386. PMC 5555642. PMID 28562589.
  23. ^ "Micro-Manager Open Source Microscopy Software". Micro-Manager. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Microscopy4Kids - Resources For Kid-Friendly Microscopy". Microscopy 4 Kids. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry" (pdf). Division of Biological Chemistry, American Chemical Society. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Ronald D. Vale". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  27. ^ "Professor Ronald D. Vale". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  28. ^ "Keith R. Porter Lecture Award". American Society for Cell Biology. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  29. ^ "Past Winners of the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences". Wiley Foundation. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  30. ^ "2012 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award". Lasker Foundation. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Ronald D. Vale". European Molecular Biology Organization. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  32. ^ "Massry Prize Winners ( 1996 – Present )". Keck School of Medicine of USC. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  33. ^ "Ronald D. Vale, Ph.D." National Academy of Medicine. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  34. ^ "Foreign Fellow Details". Indian National Science Academy. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  35. ^ "Announcement of The Shaw Laureates 2017" (Press release). Shaw Prize Foundation. 17 June 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2018.