Dr. Robert Tycko is a Senior Investigator in the Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health. He was born in New York City, raised on Long Island, and educated in physical chemistry at Princeton University (A.B. in 1980) and the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D. in 1984). His Ph.D. thesis work with Alex Pines focused on new theoretical methods for analyzing excitation sequences in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. After postdoctoral research in biological NMR with Stan Opella at the University of Pennsylvania from 1984 to 1986, he joined the Physical Chemistry Research Department of AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. At Bell Labs, Dr. Tycko discovered new magnetic resonance phenomena, such as quantum adiabatic rotational splittings in nuclear quadrupole resonance and zero-field NMR entirely in high field. He also used NMR to study of novel materials, such as fullerenes and superconducting alkali fullerides. Using optically pumped NMR, he carried out the first experimental studies of skyrmions in semiconductor quantum wells. In 1994, Dr. Tycko moved to the Laboratory of Chemical Physics, a biophysical chemistry and biophysics research department in NIDDK. Since then, he has made numerous contributions to solid state NMR methods for structural studies of proteins and has explored numerous applications of these methods. A major project in recent years has been the elucidation of the molecular structures of protein fibrils that are associated with amyloid diseases, especially Alzheimer’s disease. Other ongoing projects include structural studies of HIV-1 proteins, studies of protein folding using solid state NMR methods, and the development of technology for biomolecular solid state NMR and magnetic resonance imaging at very low temperatures.
Dr. Tycko received the American Physical Society’s Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy in 2005, the Chemical Society of Washington’s Hillebrand Prize in 2007, and an NIH Director’s Award in 2001. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the International Society of Magnetic Resonance. Dr. Tycko has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Chemical Physics, the Journal of Magnetic Resonance, the Journal of Biomolecular NMR, and Molecular Physics. He chaired the Gordon Research Conference on Magnetic Resonance in 2001 and co-organized the first U.S.-Canada Winter School on Biomolecular Solid State NMR in 2008.