José Argüello, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has been appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the most-cited biomedical research journal in the world. Published by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the journal publishes research judged to make a novel and important contribution to our understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of biological processes.
This is the third major recognition for Argüello in as many years. In 2009 he served as a program director in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Biological Sciences. In 2010 he was appointed to a four-year term on the National Institutes of Health's Macromolecular Structure and Function (A) study section to participate in the review and evaluation of research proposals aimed at understanding the nature of biological phenomena and applying that knowledge to enhance human health.
"This appointment represents a very significant honor for Professor Argüello, one that reflects the high esteem with which his pioneering research and his professional service are held," said WPI Provost Eric W. Overström. "This international recognition also reflects well on the quality of the work under way at WPI in the life sciences and biomedicine, and the impact that our interdisciplinary research enterprise is having in these vital disciplines."
Argüello's own research focuses on the structure and function of proteins that transport heavy metals like copper, zinc, cobalt, and iron across cell membranes. These micronutrients perform fundamental functions in all living organisms, for example, maintaining structure, conferring catalytic activity to proteins, and participating in the transport of oxygen in the blood, the synthesis of sugars in plants, and the transcription of DNA. Metals also contribute to both the virulence of pathogenic microorganisms and the ability of a cell to resist infection.
Because of the importance of these basic biological functions, a better understanding of the mechanisms of heavy metal transport has implications for the treatment of a host of diseases, for human and animal nutrition, and for the bioremediation of heavy metal pollution.
A member of the WPI faculty since 1996, Argüello received a degree in biological chemistry from the National University of Cordoba and a PhD in biological sciences from the National University of Rio Cuarto in Argentina. He completed postdoctoral work in the Department of Physiology at the University of Pennsylvania and in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Cincinnati. He has received multiple research grants from the NSF and the NIH, including a NIH Research Development Award for Minority Faculty. Argüello has published more than 50 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry.