Fleming Showcase Speaker profile: Professor Grant Jensen

10 February 2020

In celebration of the Microbiology Society’s 75th anniversary, Annual Conference 2020 will include a Fleming Showcase at the start of the week. We will be welcoming a range of guest speakers whose profiles we will share in the lead up to the event. This week we learn more about Professor Grant Jensen from California Institute of Technology, USA.

The Fleming Prize, named after founding member and the first President of the Society, Sir Alexander Fleming FRS, is awarded each year to an early career researcher who has achieved an outstanding research record within 12 years of being awarded their PhD.

The Fleming Showcase will be a celebration of outstanding science in recognition of the legacy of past Fleming Prize winners and it will demonstrate the impact of both established and up-and-coming scientists in addressing important challenges.

The day is organised by a Committee of Fleming Prize Winners, Chaired by Sir Paul Nurse FRS and will be compèred by academic, writer and television broadcaster, Professor Alice Roberts. It will take place on Monday 30 March 2020 and will be followed by the standard four days of scientific sessions.

Professor Grant Jensen
© Grant Jensen

Professor Grant Jensen

Professor Grant Jensen’s research focuses on cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) techniques to understand the structure and function of large protein machines and their arrangement within cells, specifically the molecular architecture of microbial cells and HIV in their native states.

Grant is currently Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He graduated from Brigham Young University, Utah, where he studied for a PhD in Biophysics at Stanford, before taking up a postdoctoral Fellowship at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In 2002, Grant took up the position of Assistant Professor of Biology at Caltech, where he became Professor in 2008. The main three areas of research in the Jensen Lab have been the ultrastructure of small cells, the structural biology of HIV and the development of cryo-EM technology.

“Cryo-EM allows biological samples, such as macro-molecular complexes, viruses or even whole cells, to be imaged in near-native frozen hydrated state, sometimes to near atomic resolution. Imaging macromolecular complexes by cryo-EM often leads immediately to dramatic new insights about their structure and function, especially when they're imaged in their cellular context. As a result, sometimes a few good images is all that's needed to discern between different models for how things actually work.”

Professor Jensen’s lab was responsible for developing a tomography database containing over 40,000 cryotomograms of over 250 different viral and microbial samples, and he has also created a 14-hour, publicly available online course on ‘Getting Started in Cryo-EM’ which teaches users about the fundamentals of cryo-EM microscopy.

Widely recognised for his work, he was chosen as a Searle Scholar in 2004, Chair of the American Society of Microbiology's Division of Cell and Structural Biology  in 2007 and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2008.

Find out more about the Fleming Showcase event and register your place on our website.