Biography - L. Mario Amzel (1942 - 2021)

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L. Mario Amzel is a Professor and Director of the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He has a Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Buenos Aires, is a Fellow of the Biophysical Society and the AAAS as well as an Honorary Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. He serves on the editorial board for multiple publications, has been a reviewer on many NIH and NSF panels, on projects such as NCI supercomputing and synchrotron design, as well as serving on many academic committees. 

Mario received his undergraduate education and PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires, in his hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He then began a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he was subsequently hired as a Professor in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry. Mario was appointed director of the department in 2006 and has overseen the hiring of many faculty members and the growth of the department.

Mario’s scientific career is defined by the mastery of biophysical principles and the application of these principles to a wide variety of biological and biochemical questions. He has studied topics as diverse as antibody structure, peptide animation, redox enzyme chemistry and evolution, protein folding, structure-based drug discovery, ion channels and transporters, ATPases, and a host of other enzymes. The techniques employed by the Amzel lab include X-ray crystallography and scattering, thermodynamics, enzyme kinetics and molecular dynamics. Johns Hopkins has a reputation as a collaborative environment and Mario embraced this thoroughly; he has maintained over 40 strong collaborations in and outside of Hopkins to date. 

Mentoring and teaching are passions of Mario’s and over the years he has welcomed over 50 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists into his lab. The annual lab picnics were always a treat, with Mario serving as asador, grilling an endless stream of meats and veggies. Alumni from the lab are now scientists, professors and successful professionals all over the world. Mario’s commitment to teaching has not gone unnoticed as he has received numerous awards for his work as an educator.