Dr. Juan S. Bonifacino is the Head of the Cell Biology and Metabolism Program (CBMP) of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a position that he has held since December 1997. In this role, Dr. Bonifacino oversees the work of six research groups devoted to the study of molecular and cellular mechanisms of pathogenesis. He is also the Chief of one of these research groups, the Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking (SIPT), which studies the mechanisms by which proteins are delivered to different compartments of the cell, and the diseases that result from dysfunction of these mechanisms.
Dr. Bonifacino received his doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1981. He then moved to the NIH, where he pursued post-doctoral studies with Dr. Richard D. Klausner. He rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the Head of the CBMP. In 2008, he was appointed NIH Distinguished Investigator. Since the early 1990s, Dr. Bonifacino's group at the NIH has been conducting research on signals and adaptor proteins that mediate sorting of proteins to endosomes, lysosomes, lysosome-related organelles such as melanosomes, and different domains of the plasma membrane in polarized cells such as neurons. His group discovered new sorting signals and adaptor proteins, and applied this knowledge to the elucidation of the causes of various human diseases including the Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome type 2 (HPS-2) and HIV-1 pathogenesis. In addition, Dr. Bonifacino’s group identified novel components of the molecular machinery involved in retrograde transport from endosomes to the trans-Golgi network (TGN), and in recycling from endosomes to the plasma membrane. In addition to continuing these studies, Dr. Bonifacino is currently investigating the molecular mechanisms that control the movement of endosomes and lysosomes in non-neuronal and neuronal cells, and the connection of these mechanisms to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr. Bonifacino served in various editorial capacities at the journals Developmental Cell, Molecular Cell, Journal of Cell Biology, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Journal of Biological Chemistry and Traffic. He is also the co-editor of the books Current Protocols in Cell Biology and Short Protocols in Cell Biology. He was a member of the Council of the American Society for Cell Biology and chaired various scientific conferences. He delivered the Alex Novikoff, Leonardo Satz, and G. Burroughs Mider lectures, and is an Honorary Professor of Biological Chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires and a Sackler Lecturer at Tel Aviv University, Israel. His lab has trained over 70 post-doctoral fellows and students, most of whom have pursued careers in academic research.