Washington University in St. Louis

Professor Colin Nichols FRS elected new “Fellow of the Royal Society”

April 30, 2014
Nichols Elected Fellow of the Royal Society

The Fellowship of the Royal Society is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth.  Fellows are elected for life and must have made ‘a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science’.  

Colin is distinguished for his contributions to our understanding of cellular excitability and its role in disease.   His research on the fundamental mechanisms and disease relevance of ion channels has been transformative.  His work has contributed revelatory insights that have led to new understanding of the mechanisms by which ion channels are regulated by membrane voltage and cellular metabolites.  His discoveries of how potassium channels are regulated at the molecular level have helped to identify a molecular mechanism of one form of human diabetes and promise further discoveries of disease mechanisms in more common forms of diabetes.  Based on these discoveries, he has initiated clinical studies that hopefully will lead to new opportunities in diabetes therapy.  In related lines of investigation, Colin has been developing new mouse models for neonatal diabetes and a mouse model for altered KATP channels in the heart to study cardiac arrhythmias.  These animal studies are likely to have a dramatic impact on our understanding of the fundamental basis of excitability and be relevant to multiple clinical pathologies.

The history of the Royal Society dates back more than 350 years.  In 1660, the Society was founded to recognize, promote and support excellence in science.  Founding members of the Society included mathematician-physicist and architect Christopher Wren, chemist Robert Boyle, and mathematician William Brouncke, and other natural philosophers.  Robert Hooke, the Society’s inaugural curator of experiments, is considered the first to identify cells as the basic structural unit in all organisms, and thus to have established the field of cell biology.  The Society was granted a Royal Charter of incorporation in 1661 by King Charles II, who declared himself the Founder and Patron of the Society. 

Please join us in congratulating Colin on this prestigious and well-deserved achievement!

** Click here to read the feature article published June 27, 2014 in the Washington University Record.

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