Renowned proteomics expert Neil L. Kelleher has been named director of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute (CLP), effective Sept. 1. Kelleher succeeds Thomas O’Halloran, who led CLP since it launched in 2005.

Kelleher is the Walter and Mary Glass Professor of Molecular Biosciences and professor of chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of medicine in Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Having served as CLP’s interim director since January 2021, Kelleher also is the faculty director of Northwestern Proteomics, a center of excellence within CLP, that develops novel platforms for drug discovery and diagnostics. He also is founder of the Consortium for Top-Down Proteomics and president of its board of directors and founder of the Human Proteoform Atlas, an international resource for scientists to browse uniquely observed proteoforms and to contribute their own datasets.

“Neil is a world-class researcher whose investigations have made vital contributions to the life sciences,” said Milan Mrksich, vice president for research at Northwestern. “In addition to his scientific leadership, Neil has the passion, vision and administrative skills to build great teams and pursue high-impact innovation at CLP. I thank Neil for his willingness to take on this important role, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as we keep cultivating research excellence at CLP and beyond.”

“I look forward to partnering with CLP investigators in the coming years to tackle some of the biggest challenges in human health and disease,” Kelleher said. “This promises to be an exciting and high-impact period in the life of the institute, and I am honored to steer its mission to accelerate discovery and delivery of game-changing innovations to society.”

Kelleher joined Northwestern in 2010, after a decade on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University and is the author of more than 300 publications. Kelleher’s research group focuses on top-down proteomics, chromatin biology and natural product biosynthesis and discovery. Contributing to both technology development and application of mass spectrometry in chemistry and biology, the Kelleher lab is interested in the biosynthesis and discovery of novel natural products with potential pharmacological activities and leverages top-down proteomics to advance and contribute to the understanding of chromatin and cancer biology. The group has a track record of training and mentoring students at the intersection of mass spectrometric technology and chemical biology. The Kelleher lab’s ProSight software suite is used in more than 1,000 labs worldwide to help analyze top-down data.

Throughout his career, Kelleher has received many honors, including the Arthur P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, Packard Fellowship, Dreyfus Award for New Investigators, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, Lilly Analytical Chemistry Award and National Institutes of Health Career Transition Award. He also was a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Young Investigator and a Searle Scholar. In 2004, he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the nation’s highest honor for professionals at the outset of their independent research careers. Kelleher also co-founded several successful startups, including MicroMGx and Integrated Protein Technologies.

Chemistry of Life Processes Institute

CLP is a cross-campus driver of interdisciplinary collaboration and biomedical innovation that brings pioneering discoveries from the lab to society. With about 70 faculty affiliates from across multiple schools and some 20 departments, CLP catalyzes team science focused on human health to spur new treatments for a range of illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and complications due to organ transplantation.

Located in Richard and Barbara Silverman Hall on the Evanston campus, the institute is home to eight core facilities — shared resources that provide the instrumentation and expertise to advance cutting-edge investigations. The institute benefits from the guidance and support of the CLP Executive Advisory Board, which comprises business leaders from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

CLP is one of 40 University research institutes and centers that attract talent from across Northwestern.

Photo and story by Lisa La Vallee

Original story appeared in Northwestern Now on September 8, 2021.