• Daniel Lin
    Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Lin/Caltech

Caltech Graduate Student Wins Weintraub Award

Daniel Lin, a graduate student in the laboratory of André Hoelz, has been awarded the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for "outstanding achievement during graduate studies in the biological sciences."

Lin has been a key player in determining the structure of the nuclear pore complex, a cellular gatekeeper that determines which molecules can enter and exit the cell's nucleus. The NPC is one of the largest and most complex structures inside the cells of eukaryotes—the group of organisms that includes humans and other mammals—and is vital for the survival of cells. It is composed of approximately 10 million atoms that together form the so-called symmetric core as well as surrounding asymmetric structures that attach to other cellular machineries.

Last year, Lin led study published in Science detailing the structure of the symmetric core of the NPC. The paper contained descriptions of 10 new crystal structures of individual NPC proteins (called nucleoporins) and pairs of nucleoporins that attach to each other, obtained using the technique of X-ray crystallography. Lin has also helped solve additional pieces of the NPC puzzle.

"Dan has been instrumental in determining more than 20 crystal structures of nucleoporins and nucleoporin complexes and has used the structural information to carry out careful functional analyses," says Hoelz. "He has assembled a very diverse experimental toolkit, which enabled him to make very significant advances.

"Perhaps Dan's most significant character traits are his contagious enthusiasm for experimental basic medical research, his scientific integrity, and his passion for mentoring undergraduate students, less experienced graduate students, and even postdoctoral scholars in my group," he adds.

The Weintraub awardees will participate in a scientific symposium honoring biologist Harold Weintraub and his commitment to innovative science. The award symposium will take place May 5, 2017, at Fred Hutchinson's Robert W. Day Campus. 

Written by Whitney Clavin