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Dan Tawfik is confirmed dead at the age of 65.

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What did Dan Tawfik do?
Dan was best known as a Israeli biochemist (Weizmann Institute of Science).
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Dan Tawfik
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Dan S. Tawfik
Dan Salah Tawfik

(1955-05-28)28 May 1955
Jerusalem, Israel
Known for
  • Teva Award for Excellence in Memory of Eli Hurvitz (2013)
  • The ECI Enzyme Engineering Award (2015)
  • EMET Prize in Life Sciences (2020)
Scientific career
InstitutionsWeizmann Institute of Science
Doctoral advisorProfs. Zelig Eshhar and Michael Sela
Dan S. Tawfik (28 May 1955 - 5 May 2021) was an Israeli biochemist. His research regards enzymes, and enzyme evolution in particular.
1 Biography
2 Career and research
3 Awards and honours
4 References
Tawfik was born in Jerusalem from a family of Jewish immigrants originally from Iraq. He received his B.Sc. in chemistry and biochemistry (1988) and MSc in biotechnology (1990) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and his PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science (1995). He then moved to the United Kingdom where, after two years of postdoctoral research working under Alan Fersht at the University of Cambridge (UK) and at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Protein Engineering, he became a senior research fellow at Sidney Sussex College and at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where he was appointed group leader in 1999. He then joined the Department of Biomolecular Sciences at the Weizman Institute of Science in 2001, and held the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Professorial Chair.
Tawfik died on 5 May 2021 from a climbing accident.
Career and research
Tawfik developed in vitro compartmentalization (jointly with Andrew D. Griffiths). This technology enables the compartmentalization of single DNA/RNA molecules in emulsion droplets, thus providing cell-like compartment, in which genes can be replicated, transcribed and translated. This technology allowed directed enzyme evolution to be performed without the involvement of living cells, and also became the basis of massive parallel sequencing methods such as 454 sequencing or SOLID, and of Digital polymerase chain reaction.
Tawfik has been one of the earliest contributors to the study of enzyme promiscuity and its role in enzyme evolution. He established the link between the conformational diversity of proteins and their promiscuity , demonstrated the evolvability of promiscuous protein functions (the ability of mutations to dramatically enhance a promiscuous activity with minor effects of the protein’s original function ), and the role of promiscuity in the evolution of pesticide degrading enzymes. His group has also addressed the evolutionary trajectories that lead to new enzymes, and the link between protein folding, stability and evolvability.
His research on the emergence of the first enzymes is establishing the roots of the most common enzyme lineages, the Rossmann and Rossmann NTPases , in simple polypeptides, and suggested ornithine as the first cationic amino acid , demonstrated the evolvability of promiscuous protein functions (the ability of mutations to dramatically enhance a promiscuous activity with minor effects of the protein’s original function.
Awards and honours
The Wolgin Prize for Scientific Excellence (2007)
The Weizmann Prize from the Tel Aviv municipality (2007)
EMBO member (2009)
Teva Award for Excellence in Memory of Eli Hurvitz (2013)
The ECI Enzyme Engineering Award (2015)
The EMET Prize in Life Sciences (2020)
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