“We expect to contribute further tools for visualization and critical analysis, and to develop improved strategies for the growing challenge-areas in structural biology: ultra-high resolution, multiple conformations, RNA, and especially large, low-resolution structures.”
Jane S. Richardson is an American biophysicist best known for developing the Richardson diagram, or ribbon diagrams, a method of representing the 3D structure of proteins. Ribbon diagrams have become a standard representation of protein structures that has facilitated further investigation of protein structure and function globally. With interests in astronomy, math, physics, botany, and philosophy, Richardson took an unconventional route to establishing a science career.
Richardson, who works alongside her husband, biochemist David C. Richardson, is primarily focused on studying the 3-dimensional structures of proteins and RNA, two critical molecules within cells that affect how cells function. Richardson and colleagues made a significant discovery about small motions inside proteins that lead to much larger changes at the surface, where they affect interactions with other molecules. This adds to a deeper understanding of the basics of protein structure, function and evolution and could provide a helpful step toward the construction of man-made proteins to treat a wide array of diseases.
Richardson earned a B.A. degree in philosophy from Swarthmore College, earned a MacArthur fellowship, and become a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She and her husband maintain the Richardson Laboratory at Duke University.