Chemistry and Biology
B.S., Pennsylvania State University, 1983
Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1987
Stephen L. Mayo is the William K. Bowes Jr. Foundation Chair, Division of Biology and Bren Professor of Biology and Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. He earned his B.S. in Chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University in 1983 and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Caltech in 1987. He did postdoctoral work as a Miller Fellow in the Chemistry Department at UC Berkeley. After working for two years at a software company he cofounded (Molecular Simulations, Inc. - MSI), he did additional postdoctoral work in the Biochemistry Department at Stanford University School of Medicine before returning to Caltech as an Assistant Professor of Biology in 1992. Mayo was Vice Provost of Research at Caltech from 2007 to 2010 and began his term as Chair of the Division of Biology in 2010.
Mayo is a recognized leader in the field of protein design. His work at the interface of theory, computation, and experiment is aimed at understanding the physical/chemical determinants of protein structure, stability, and function. Mayo and his coworkers were the first to show that a quantitative description of protein thermodynamics could be coupled with computational search techniques capable of addressing the enormous combinatorial space available to protein sequences. This and related work have been viewed as the harbinger to a complete solution to the inverse protein-folding problem (that is, the problem of predicting amino acid sequences that will fold to specific protein structures). A solution to this problem will have a profound impact on our ability to understand the evolution of protein sequences, structures, and functions, as well as on prospects for continued development of protein-based biotechnologies. In addition to MSI (currently Accelrys), Mayo also cofounded Xencor in 1997, which is focused on engineered antibodies for oncology applications with several biologics in human clinical trials, and Protabit in 2009, which is focused on integrating and developing next generation computational protein design software technology.
Mayo has received a number of honors including being named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar, a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellow, and a Searle Scholar. In 1997 he was recognized for his pioneering work in protein design by being awarded the Johnson Foundation Prize for Innovative Research in Structural Biology. In 2004 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. More recently, Mayo was selected for the inaugural class of the Department of Defense's National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship program for work focusing on the development of broad-spectrum antiviral compounds.
He was appointed to the National Science Board in 2013.