Prize Recipients

2024 Prize Recipient

The Development of T7 Expression Technology for the Production of RNAs and Proteins

Prize Recipient: F. William Studier, Senior Biophysicist Emeritus, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Citation: For developing technology that uses components of the T7 bacteriophage for rapid, cell-free, and bacterial expression of any gene of interest. By enabling the production of critical proteins and RNAs on a massive scale, the T7 Expression System has accelerated biomedical research and has helped to extend millions of lives worldwide through its use in therapeutics, diagnostics, and vaccines, including the mRNA vaccines that protect against COVID-19.

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Components of the T7 expression system inside an E. coli cell are illustrated, showing how they generate a desired protein. The T7 expression system is most often used in E. coli cells to produce large amounts of a protein of interest. It includes the T7 promoter that’s been added to the gene encoding the protein, and the T7 RNA polymerase, which transcribes the gene to make the corresponding mRNA. It also includes ribosomes and other E. coli components that then translate the mRNA strands into the protein. Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory


About F. William Studier

F. William Studier, Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

F. William Studier was born in 1936 in Waverly, Iowa and went to Yale (BS, Biophysics, 1958), Caltech (PhD, Biophysics, 1963), and Stanford University for postdoctoral research in biochemistry. In 1964 he joined the biology department in Brookhaven National Laboratory, which he chaired from 1990-1999, becoming Senior Biophysicist Emeritus in 2015. 

Initially, Dr. Studier studied homogeneous single- and double-stranded DNAs under many different conditions, and then focused on molecular genetics and physiology of bacteriophage T7. Proteins and RNAs were identified by SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and enhanced by a slab-gel apparatus he designed in order to analyze up to 25 adjacent samples. The entire 39,937 base-pair sequence of T7 DNA and locations of T7 genetic elements were determined in collaboration with his Brookhaven colleague, the late John Dunn. T7 RNA polymerase is highly selective for its own promoters, not found in E. coli, and makes complete RNA from almost any DNA about five times faster than E. coli RNA polymerase. This allowed development of the T7 expression system, which produces almost any protein from a multicopy vector. Later Dr. Studier compared sequenced E. coli genomes for insights into bacterial evolution.   

Dr. Studier is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, the National Academy of the Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He holds 16 patents, nine of which have been licensed and commercialized. 



Past Recipients

Marvin H. Caruthers, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado


Citation: For developing methods enabling efficient, accurate synthesis of specified DNA and RNA sequences, making possible the genomic revolution in biological science and medicine and improving the lives of hundreds of millions of people globally through diagnostic tests and genetic medicines.

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