Case Study – Ron Vale

Ron Vale
University of California, San Francisco; HHMI; Whitman Center Scientist, MBL

Ron Vale

Credit Len Rubenstein

“The Marine Biological Laboratory is a magical place where great discoveries are made and new ideas are spawned.” – Ron Vale

Ron Vale was fortunate to have experienced this “magic” when he first came to the MBL in 1983 as a graduate student. At that time, he was amazed by movies of membrane organelles traveling inside of squid axons (much like cars traveling along a busy freeway), as revealed by the relatively new technique of “video microscopy” developed at the MBL independently by Shinya Inoué and Robert Allen. Surely, there had to be biological “motors” powering such motion.

Vale and his colleagues went on to invent new ways to study how “cargo” is moved within cells and, as a result, discovered a new biological motor protein, kinesin, at the MBL. This achievement garnered Vale, Michael Sheetz of Columbia University, and James Spudich of Stanford University School of Medicine the prestigious 2012 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.

More than three decades later, Vale is still collaborating at the MBL, now part of the HHMI Summer Institute at MBL, an experimental collaboration tackling a big unknown in cell biology.


2014 HHMI Summer Institute at MBL

Credit Tom Kleindinst

Read more:

Ronald D. Vale, PhD

Science Jam, HHMI Bulletin, Fall 2015

Critical Mass in a Closed Space, MBL Catalyst, Summer 2014

How lucky can one be? A perspective from a young scientist at the right place at the right time, Nature Medicine, October 2012

MBL and Stanford Scientists Receive 2012 Lasker Award For Basic Medical Research