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2023 IUPHAR Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Congratulations to William A. Catterall, Ph. D.

Bill Catterall received a B.A. in Chemistry from Brown University in 1968, a Ph.D. in Physiological Chemistry from Johns Hopkins in 1972, and postdoctoral training in neurobiology and molecular pharmacology as a Muscular Dystrophy Association Fellow with Dr. Marshall Nirenberg at the National Institutes of Health from 1972 to 1974. Following three years as a staff scientist at NIH, he joined the University of Washington in 1977 as Associate Professor of Pharmacology, became Professor in 1981, and served as Chair from 1984 to 2016. In his laboratory at the University of Washington, Catterall discovered the voltage-gated sodium and calcium channel proteins, which initiate electrical and chemical signaling in nerve and muscle cells.

His subsequent work contributed much to understanding their structure, function, regulation, molecular pharmacology, and roles in diseases. In 2011, Catterall and colleagues reported the first high-resolution structure of a voltage-gated sodium channel, and his work in structural biology has provided new insights into voltage-dependent activation and inactivation, ion conductance, and molecular pharmacology of the sodium and calcium channels at the atomic level.

His recent work has also led to new understanding of inherited forms of periodic paralysis, epilepsy, and autism that are caused by mutations in sodium and calcium channel genes. Catterall is a member of several science academies, including the US National Academy of Science, US National Academy of Medicine, Academia Europaea, and the Royal Society of London, UK. He has received numerous awards, including the Gairdner International Award of Canada in 2010, the K. S. Cole Award of the Biophysical Society in 2015, and the Robert Ruffolo Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) in 2016.

He served as Editor of Molecular Pharmacology from 1986 to 1990, and he has been a long-term member of the Board of Publication Trustees of ASPET and the Editorial Board of Molecular Pharmacology. As a member of the Nomenclature Committee of the International Union of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR), Catterall led the development of a systematic nomenclature for the 143 ion channels related to sodium and calcium channels in the human genome, and he served as Editor for the IUPHAR Ion Channel Compendium in 2002 and 2005 and the IUPHAR Ion Channel Database in 2008. This nomenclature has withstood the test of time and is used universally in ion channel research. Catterall and his wife Tina have three wonderful adult children who work in academia, law, and the restaurant industry. He enjoys skiing, sailing, and hiking when not in the laboratory.