Department News



Yigong Shi is a University Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He was born and raised in China and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Tsinghua University in 1989 and Ph.D. in Biophysics at Johns Hopkins University in 1995. Following postdoctoral training at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, he joined Princeton University as an Assistant Professor in 1998. He was promoted to a tenured Full Professor in 2003 and named a Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology in 2007. He moved to Tsinghua University in 2008.

At Princeton, Yigong Shi focused on the structural biology of apoptosis. At Tsinghua, he launched a serious effort into regulated intramembrane proteolysis and pre-mRNA splicing. His laboratory determined the atomic structures of the apoptosome, human g-secretase, and the spliceosome. He was a Searle Scholar and a Rita Allen Scholar and received the 2003 Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award, the 2010 Sackler Prize in Biophysics, and the 2014 Gregori Aminoff Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, and a Foreign Associate of the European Molecular Biology Organization.



About the John T. Edsall Lecture

The Edsall Lecture is given annually in honor of John Edsall, a member of the faculty of Harvard University from 1928 to 1973, when he became emeritus but remained engaged in research for more than 20 years. He died in 2002 a few months short of 100 years of age. Dr. Edsall’s scientific career started in Edwin J. Cohn’s Department of Physical Chemistry at Harvard Medical School, where he studied the properties of the muscle proteins and of the amino acids. These studies among many others led to the 1943 book by Cohn and Edsall, Proteins, Amino Acids and Peptides as Ions and Dipolar Ions, which became a classic in the field of protein chemistry. During World War II he had a key role in isolating blood proteins for the war effort and developed fibrin foam, a porous form of a fibrin clot for use in neurosurgical procedures. In 1954, Dr. Edsall joined the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and moved to the Biological Laboratories, where he started research on carbonic anhydrase. He was greatly concerned with education. He was a tutor in the biochemical sciences concentration for 40 years and Head Tutor from more than 25 years. He taught a course on biophysical chemistry at the college from 1940 until he retired; the course led to the writing of a textbook with his closest scientific colleague, Jeffries Wyman.  He had a leading role in 1954 in the formation of the Committee on Higher Degrees in Biochemistry, a graduate program leading to the PhD degree in biochemistry; the committee became the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1967. Dr. Edsall was also a champion in the fight for the freedom and integrity of science.  – Guido Guidotti