Primal de Lanerolle
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Primal de Lanerolle

I was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. My family moved to Berkeley, CA in 1958 where I went to middle and high school. I then went to Whitworth College, a small Presbyterian liberal arts school in Spokane, WA. I got a fantastic education at Whitworth and graduated in 1968 with a double major in English and Chemistry. I next entered a Master’s Program in English Literature at San Francisco State College. I also started working at a hospital in San Francisco doing research so that I could support myself. 1968 was at the height of the Viet Nam war and I entered a program called Alternate Service to fulfill my service obligation. After 2 years, I got married, we spent 10 months in Europe and returned so I complete my MA. By then, I had fallen in love with scientific research and I entered a PhD program in Physiology and Pharmacology at UC, San Diego in 1974.

My research as a graduate student focused on the role of myosin light chain phosphorylation in regulating smooth muscle contraction. Following graduation, I moved to Bob Adelstein’s lab at NIH. Eventually, I joined the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago in 1984.

As my interest in cell biology grew, I increasingly studied the role of myosin light chain phosphorylation in regulating cell motility. This continues to be one of my major interests. My lab also discovered the first myosin, nuclear myosin I, in the nucleus. The presence of myosin in the nucleus was highly controversial because no one had demonstrated myosin II or actin filaments in the nucleus. However, it is now well-accepted that actin and unconventional myosins have important roles in the nucleus. Because of its groundbreaking nature, studies on nuclear actin and myosins are a major focus of the research in my lab.


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