In Memory of Klaus Schulten

Dr. Klaus Schulten, co-director of the Center for the Physics of Living Cells and Swanlund Professor of Physics, has sadly passed away from complications following surgery at the age of 69.

Professor Schulten was a leader and visionary in computational biophysics. He will be remembered not just for his groundbreaking development of computational tools for biology, but for the many important biological insights that emerged from his work.

Prof. Schulten received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1974. He was junior group leader at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry from 1974 to 1980 and Professor of theoretical physics at the Technical University of Munich from 1980 to 1988. He joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois in 1988 and founded the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group in 1989. The Swanlund Professor of Physics was the director of the NIH Center for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics founded in 1992 and co-director of the NSF Center for the Physics of Living Cells (CPLC) since its inception in 2008. His singular vision for the CPLC is responsible for the great synergy between theoretical and experimental biophysics that exists within the Center. Prof. Schultenís multidisciplinary research led to scientific affiliations beyond the Department of Physics, including the Department of Chemistry as well as the Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology. Decorated with prestigious awards throughout his career, Prof. Schulten shaped and launched the careers of many scientists in his 36 years as a professor. His legacy and impact on the biophysics and broader scientific community is truly immeasurable.

Prof. Schulten believed in the extraordinary power of computation, never straying from his vision of its application in theoretical physics and theoretical biology. His research group applied concepts and methodologies from condensed matter physics to the organization and function of the machinery in biological cells, making major advancements in numerous areas of biology including vision, photosynthesis, force generation, membrane channels, and large scale cellular organization. Prof. Schultenís group developed key molecular dynamics simulations software to study biological processes and structures. Notably, his research group created incredible simulations that provide novel views of the structure and function of the HIV capsid and the first-ever simulation of an entire life form, the complete satellite tobacco mosaic virus. The software developed from the Schulten group has been used by thousands of researchers and has led to many structures, models, and research collaborations world-wide.

Dr. Klaus Schultenís passing is a huge loss for our Center, the Physics Department and Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology, the University of Illinois, and the broader scientific community. He was a brilliant and passionate scientist, whose scientific contributions will be studied and expanded for generations to come.

A Celebration of Life for Prof. Schulten will be held on Monday, November 7 at 10:00 AM at St. John's Catholic Newman Center (reception to follow).

See Prof. Schulten's obituary here.