Dirk Trauner is the George A. Weiss University Professor, with joint appointments in the Department of Chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in the Perelman School of Medicine. Trauner is a global leader in synthetic chemistry and physiology. His pioneering research in photopharmacology focuses on the use of light to control biological pathways, including the possibilities of restoring vision to the blind, targeting the delivery of drug therapies, and developing new directions in precision medicine. This work brings together synthetic chemistry with biology and neuroscience to innovate not only new scientific methods but also new therapies that can tangibly improve people’s lives around the world. Along similar lines, his lab employs advanced techniques of chemical synthesis to learn more about the origin, structure, and biological meaning of natural products.
Born in Austria, Trauner began his career in the US as a postdoctoral fellow at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and taught at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Munich before joining NYU in 2017. He was elected as a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 2017 and has received the Otto Bayer Award, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society, the Emil Fischer Medal of the German Chemical Society, the Kitasato Microbial Chemistry Medal, and a National Science Foundation Career Award, among numerous other honors. He has been a visiting professor at MIT, the University of Chicago, and the University of Zurich and delivered honorary lectures at Beijing University, Nankai University, the Israel Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, and the University of Oxford. He earned a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Vienna and an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the Free University of Berlin.
About the Donor
In 2010, George A. Weiss, W'65, HON'14, together with his wife, Lydia, endowed four Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professorships, adding to his extensive philanthropic legacy of support for Penn's highest priorities.