Karin Reinisch named the Wallace Professor of Cell Biology

Professor Karin Reinisch
Karin Reinisch (photo by Yale School of Medicine)

Karin Marion Reinisch, newly named as the Jean and David W. Wallace Professor of Cell Biology, focuses her research on molecular mechanisms in membrane trafficking and membrane biology.

Organelles within a cell differ in terms of the lipid composition of their surrounding membrane, and these differences help to establish organelle identity and thus allow for directional transport of materials between organelles. Previously, Reinisch’s laboratory has sought to understand the molecular mechanisms by which materials are moved between compartments. The current focus of her lab and an emerging area of study is to understand how membrane composition is established and regulated.

Reinisch is particularly interested in phosphoinositide lipids, which in addition to their role in organelle identity also are critical in signal transduction pathways, and their homeostasis. She studies the structure and function of the protein complexes involved in making and degrading phosphoinositide lipids. She also studies lipid transport proteins that modulate membrane composition by transporting lipids, including phosphoinositides, between membrane bilayers at so-called membrane contact sites. She uses X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and biochemistry and biophysics to understand structure and function, then test hypotheses arising from these studies using cell biology techniques.

Reinisch earned her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in chemistry from Harvard University. Following postdoctoral research there, she began her academic career as an assistant professor of cell biology at Yale. Prior to her new appointment, she served as a full professor of cell biology. She also holds a secondary appointment as a professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and is currently director of graduate studies in the Department of Cell Biology.

The Yale professor is a widely published contributor to peer-reviewed journals and has been an invited speaker at universities and conferences throughout the United States and Europe. Her research is supported primarily by grants from the National Institutes of Health, although she has also received grants from the Mathers Foundation and the Pew Program in the Biomedical Sciences.

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