Published March 19, 2013
Sachs received the award—given to only one investigator annually—for his significant contributions to the understanding of cell membrane biophysics.
In 1983, Sachs discovered mechanosensitive ion channels. Found in every cell, these are sensors for systems including the senses of hearing, touch and balance.
He is responsible for finding the only drug to inhibit these channels and applying it to find possible therapies and cures for diseases such as muscular dystrophy and sickle cell anemia.
Sachs’ inventions bring basic science to industry and bedside clinical practice.
Along with Fanjie Meng, PhD, research assistant professor of physiology and biophysics, Sachs invented fluorescent probes that measure stress in proteins of living cells and transgenic animals. These probes may eventually help physicians diagnose metastatic cancers.
Sachs invented a device to electrically measure cell volume in real time with collaborator Susan Zonglu Hua, PhD, from the departments of mechanical and aerospace engineering and physiology and biophysics.
Sachs conducted the first voltage clamp studies of isolated adult heart cells. He is responsible for the first single channel recording from tissue cultured cells.
Sachs has been involved in developing the patch clamp electrophysiological technique since its inception in the late 1970s.
The Cole award, given by the Membrane Biophysics Subgroup, has been previously awarded to such dignitaries as Nobel laureate Erwin Neher.
Sachs was honored in February at the 57th annual meeting of the Biophysical Society.