Dr. Tamm received his basic training in Molecular Biosciences at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Switzerland. After one year at Cornell University, where he studied microtubules by electron crystallography as part of his Master’s thesis (1978), he joined the group of Joachim Seelig at the University of Basel to obtain his Ph.D. degree in Biophysics (1982). Solid-state NMR techniques were used to characterize lipid-protein interactions in reconstituted cytochrome c oxidase and sarcoplasmic calcium pump membranes.
As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Harden McConnell at Stanford University (1982-1984), Lukas Tamm originated the development of supported bilayers as a new model membrane system and co-discovered lipid domains in monolayers at the air-water interface.
Dr. Tamm was a junior faculty member at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel from 1984 – 1990, where he also received the venia legendi (Habilitation). The interaction of mitochondrial signal sequences with lipid model membranes and establishing TIRF microscopy as a tool to study protein binding to and lipid-protein interactions in supported membranes were at the center of his research activities.
Dr. Tamm moved to the University of Virginia (Charlottesville) in 1990. He is currently the Harrison Distinguished Professor in Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics and Vice-Chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics. Dr. Tamm directs the Center for Membrane Biology at the University of Virginia, which currently comprises 15 tenured and tenure-track faculty who are affiliated with several Departments of the University.
Current research interests include studies on virus entry into cells by membrane fusion, neurotransmitter release at synapses by exocytosis of synaptic vesicles at nerve termini, and the study of the structures of bacterial outer membrane transporters by NMR. Methods development has always played a central role in Dr. Tamm’s research. Dr. Tamm’s lab is at the forefront of solving membrane protein structures by NMR, developing single molecule tracking and single vesicle fusion technology in supported membranes, and developing methods to measure lipid coupling and protein targeting in lipid “rafts”.
Dr. Tamm has published more than 120 research and review articles and edited a book on Protein-Lipid Interactions (2005). He also guest-edited several special journal issues on various topics and is the Membranes volume editor of the nine-volume textbook Comprehensive Biophysics (2012). He is an Associate Editor of Biophysical Journal and a member of the editorial boards of several other biological sciences journals. He serves on US and foreign grant review panels. He is also the current Secretary of the Biophysical Society.