Fred E. Cohen, MD, DPhil, FACMI

Year Elected: 
2001
University of California, San Francisco

Fred Cohen is a Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Medicine, and Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, and a partner at Texas Pacific Group. Dr. Cohen received his BS in molecular biochemistry and biophysics from Yale University, DPhil in molecular biophysics from Oxford University, and MD from Stanford Medical School. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship, medical residency and endocrinology fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition, he served as Chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at UCSF for four years.

Dr. Cohen is best known for his work in computational biology. He has used the computer as an experimental tool to explore the relationships between protein sequence and structure and gone on to use these relationships as a starting point for drug design efforts. The hallmark of these efforts has been the close connection between computation and experiment. More recently, Dr. Cohen and Dr. Stanley Prusiner have collaborated to investigate the molecular basis of prion replication. This work has led to our understanding of the prion diseases as diseases of protein folding. In the last few years, this insight has catalyzed their work on the development of novel diagnostic tests and therapeutic interventions for prion disease.

Dr. Cohen has been the recipient of many awards, including a Rhodes Scholarship, a Searle Scholars Junior Faculty Award, the Richard E. Weitzman Young Investigator Award from the Endocrine Society, the Young Investigators Award from the Western Society for Clinical Investigation, the Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessey Prix d'Honneur Award, shared with Stanley Prusiner, for their work on prion diseases, recognition as one of 40 Under-40 in the Bay Area by San Francisco Focus Magazine, and the Burroughs Wellcome New Initiatives in Malaria Award, shared with Joe DeRisi. He has served on many committees, including the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, a National Science Foundation Committee on Computational Biology, NIH Study Sections including service as a permanent member, vice-chair, and chair of the Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Study Section, the Advisory Committee of the Structural Biology Program of the Academia Sinica, and the nominating committee of the Protein Society.

Dr. Cohen has played significant roles with several journals, as an editor of the Journal of Molecular Biology and Folding and Design and as an editorial board member for Protein Engineering, Perspectives in Drug Discovery and Design, Journal of Computational Biology, and Molecular Medicine. He has given several eponymous lectures, including the Genetics Institute Lecture at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the Ninth and Tenth Annual Roland D. Pinkham, MD, Basic Science Lectures at the University of Washington, the Frederic M. Richards Lecture in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University, and the J. Lawrence Oncley Lecture in Biophysics at the University of Michigan. Dr. Cohen has been elected as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and as a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Western Association of Physicians, and the Association of American Physicians.