Daniel Minor, Jr. received a B.A. in biochemistry and biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked with Peter Kim, a 1990 Rita Allen Foundation Scholar. He conducted postdoctoral research with Nigel Unwin at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, and with Lily Jan at the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the faculty of UCSF in 2000. In addition to a Rita Allen Foundation award, Minor has received Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, Beckman Young Investigator, Searle Scholar and McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience awards. He has been selected as an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and a fellow of the American Asthma Foundation.
Ion channels are fundamental components of biological electrical signaling networks. These proteins control the passage of ions across the cell membrane and generate the bioelectricity that is essential for life. Much of the future of neuroscience, cardiovascular research and design of biomimetic membrane systems lies in understanding the molecular details of how these protein machines function, how they are regulated and how they are integrated into large, macromolecular complexes within the cell. Minor’s laboratory seeks to uncover the basic mechanisms by which ion channels act. His team uses a multidisciplinary approach that includes genetic selections, X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, solution biophysical methods, small-molecule screening and electrophysiology. They are interested in understanding the high-resolution structures of channel proteins, their regulatory factors, and the conformational changes that accompany channel action, as well as in the development of novel means to manipulate channel action in vivo.