Wayne State University

Wayne State physics professor receives prestigious NSF Faculty Early Career Award

Research to impact understanding of the vesicle transport system of cells and develop summer K-12 physics program for metro-Detroit area students

DETROIT – Wayne State University’s Takeshi Sakamoto, biophysicist and assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the agency's most prestigious award for up-and-coming researchers in science and engineering.

The five-year, $692,000 grant was awarded for Sakamoto's project, “Determine the mechanical properties of molecular motor in vesicle transports.” Vesicles in cells are transported by molecular motors to the cell periphery for secretion in response to various physiological and pathological signals. Zymogen granules are huge vesicles (~1 micro meter diameter) in pancreatic acinar cells for digestive enzyme storage and regulated secretion.

Sakamoto will investigate how molecular motors transport such large vesicles, and the mechanisms motors use to enforce chemical energy to mechanical force. He will apply his state-of-the-art light microscope and imaging technique to understand the vesicle transportation system. As a part of this award, he will develop a K-12 summer program for metro-Detroit area students to understand light and microscopes with hands-on projects. 

Sakamoto received his Ph.D. from Kanazawa University, Japan, and did his postdoctoral fellowship at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health before joining the Wayne State University faculty in September 2009.

The National Science Foundation award number for this grant is 1453579.

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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.