The Nordstrom Family Puts Protein Design on a Fast Track

Proteins are tiny engines, formed of amino acid strands, that do all the body’s work — from thinking to breathing. Designed proteins are a recent development: they’re science’s attempt to improve upon nature and fix problems that include medical issues such as cancer and celiac disease as well as environmental challenges. One of the field’s founders, David Baker, Ph.D., is the director of the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) at UW Medicine.

Bruce and Jeannie Nordstrom believe in the power of proteins, and they also believe in the power of visionary leadership. Their recent gift to the IPD Director’s Fund is a vote of confidence in Baker’s ability to leverage the most promising opportunities in a rapidly evolving field.

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“Dr. Baker and his colleagues are the world’s experts in protein design, and we want to give them the flexibility to follow their inspiration,” says Bruce Nordstrom.

The Nordstroms’ gift will allow Baker to hire up to nine new researchers who can accelerate research and take on strategic collaborations with global partners over the next five years. Their gift will also help the IPD invest in technology and big-data computation. It’s a timely follow-up to a gift the Nordstroms made three years ago, which supported a successful translational research program at the IPD.

“We need to search out promising opportunities, to move swiftly to address emerging medical challenges,” says Baker. “With the help of the Nordstroms, we’ll be able to hire the research personnel to make that happen in a proactive way — and we are enormously grateful for their investment.”

“We want to give Dr. Baker and his lab the tools they need to improve health through the power of proteins,” says Jeannie Nordstrom. “We can’t wait to see what they’ll accomplish.”

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