Cohen, Sir Philip

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

COHEN, SIR PHILIP

COHEN, SIR PHILIP (1945– ), British biochemist. Cohen was born in Edgware, Middlesex, and earned his B.Sc. (1966) and Ph.D., under the supervision of Michael Rosemeyer (1969), in biochemistry from University College, London. After a postdoctoral fellowship with Edmond Fischer at the University of Washington, Seattle (1969–1971), he joined the staff of the University of Dundee, where he progressed to full professor (1981) and Royal Society Research Professor (from 1984). He also became director of the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit and the University's School of Life Sciences. Cohen's research centered on kinases, large families of enzymes which attach phosphate to proteins, and protein phosphatases, enzymes which have the opposite effect. He made pioneering contributions to elucidating these systems, which provide signals regulating normal cell behavior and which are perturbed in many diseases, including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. In particular, his group identified the enzymes which control the conversion of blood glucose to tissue glycogen and have major implications for understanding diabetes. These discoveries are being applied to the design of novel drugs for treating diseases such as diabetes and cancer. His publications are currently the world's second most cited in biology and biochemistry. His many honors include election to the Royal Society of London (1984), knighthood (1998), and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award (2002). In 2005 he became president of the British Biochemical Society. His leadership had a major influence in transforming a depressed area of Scotland into a center of scientific and biotechnological excellence. He also delivered many major lectures to Israeli academic institutions.

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)