Hao Wu

PhD 1992, Biochemistry

Wu Hao"As a PhD student, Purdue provided me with the scientific knowledge required for my success. But more importantly, I found role models in science from my Purdue professors, most notably my PhD adviser Michael Rossmann, Purdue's Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences. "Hao Wu is making an impact on understanding why cells behave the way they do, particularly when it comes to infection, inflammation and immunity — and how the cell’s design promotes or inhibits certain responses.

Wu, the Springer Family endowed Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and Professor Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, credits her time at Purdue for launching her research career in this area of structural biology and immunity.

To gain her doctoral degree in biochemistry at Purdue, Wu studied under internationally known researcher Michael Rossmann. To this day, Professor Rossmann remains a mentor, encouraging and challenging Wu in the pursuit of answers for the structure-based design of protein and small molecule modulators in immune signaling by cells.

In her 20 years as a leading biochemist and researcher, she has focused on using X-ray crystallography in conjunction with other biophysical and biochemical methods to examine the protein-protein interactions involved in the intracellular signaling of cell survival and cell death in response to extracellular signals.

“Our elucidation of how signaling proteins assemble into higher order signalosomes for enzyme activation challenges the conventional view of signal transduction as a process of successive recruitment and allosteric events,” she says.

Purdue will always have a warm spot in her heart for other reasons, too. “My favorite Purdue memories include learning how to drive for the first time, sailing with my adviser and learning how to ski at my first keystone meeting,” she says.


BS ’85, Peking University
MS ’88, Peking Union Medical College
PhD, ’92, Biochemistry, Purdue University

Career highlights

2012 Elected AAAS Fellow
2012-22 National Institutes of Health Merit Award
2003 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in  Science and Technology
2003 Margaret Dayhoff Memorial Award, Biophysical Society
2002-04 Rita Allen Scholar Award
2000-04 Pew Scholar Award
1993-96 Aaron Diamond Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
1989-92 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Pre-doctoral Fellowship

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