Margaret van Heek, PhD
Patricia C. Weber is a structural biologist and drug discovery scientist. With training in protein X-ray crystallography, she helped develop the structure-based drug design approach and pioneered its broad integration into modern drug discovery. This expertise remains an important asset for Weber’s current work in translational medicine where her understanding of the cross-functional interactions of diverse experimentalists remains key to helping clients advance their projects. Her industrial career includes employment at the early biotechnology start-up Genex Corporation, Fortune 500 company E. I. DuPont Central Research and Development, and the joint venture DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals. As Senior Director of the Structural Chemistry Department at Schering Plough Research Institute, she led a 70-scientist drug discovery team that included molecular modeling experts, NMR and mass spectrometrists, protein biochemists and X-ray crystallographers working to understand protein: small molecule drug interactions and the protein conformational changes that accompany ligand binding. The group contributed to the discovery of HCV protease inhibitors (boceprevir and narlaprevir) and farnesyl transferase inhibitor lonafarnib. Included among Weber’s publications is the often cited paper (1460 citations) detailing structural origins of the ultrahigh affinity streptavidin: biotin interaction and providing guidelines for increasing affinity in ligand: protein complexes. She is inventor on 21 issued patents covering engineered proteins, protein crystal forms, streptavidin dyes, and novel small molecule compositions of matter. Weber earned her BSci and PhD degrees in Chemistry from the Universities of Montana and Arizona. She conducted structural biology postdoctoral research at Yale University with TA Steitz, 2009 Chemistry Nobel Laureate.