Eva Engvall, Ph.D., M.D h.c.

Eva Engvall, Ph.D. headshot

Eva Engvall, Ph.D., M.D h.c.

Professor Emeritus

Eva Engvall's Research Focus

Extracellular Matrix
Muscular Dystrophy

My Story

I came to the Institute, then the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, in 1979. The Institute allowed me total freedom to pursue my research without any interference or bureaucracy. If I could get grants from the NIH, I could do whatever I wanted. 

My interest was the extracellular matrix and cell-matrix interactions. Using the relatively new technology of monoclonal antibodies, I decided to find out if the extracellular matrix was different in different tissues (not known at the time).  We identified and characterized some of the selectively expressed proteins. One of those is “merosin”, a member of the laminin family that is only present in the basement membranes of muscle and nerve. We predicted that defects in merosin would result in muscle and/or nerve disease. Indeed, we found that defects in merosin are the cause of the second most common form of muscular dystrophy. Lynn Sakai, at the Portland Shriners Research Center and Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, OHSU, and I discovered another extracellular matrix protein with unique distribution, fibrillin, and fibrillin is mutated in Marfan syndrome. 

My assays and antibodies have been extensively used all over the world both in research and in human and veterinary medical diagnosis. 

Other than my own laboratory research, I shared the interest of Lil Fishman, one of the founders of the Institute, in the mentoring of young scientists. Lil and I did this together in many ways: lunches for new postdocs, a monthly newsletter, courses on different scientific topics, and lectures by famous local scientists on how to succeed in science. I have been a member of the Fishman Fund advisory board and a reviewer of applications for the annual Fishman Fund Award for postdoctoral fellows.

Eva Engvall's Bio

Eva Engvall earned her Ph.D. from the University of Stockholm in 1975. Her postdoctoral work was done at the University of Helsinki and City of Hope National Medical Center in California, where she was subsequently appointed to staff. Dr. Engvall was recruited to Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in 1979. For 1994-1996, Dr. Engvall held joint appointments at this institute and as Chairperson of the Department of Developmental Biology at Stockholm University. Dr. Engvall's work on the development of the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay, ELISA, has been widely acclaimed, including honors from The German Society for Clinical Chemistry, the U.S. Clinical Ligand Assay Society, and in 1995, a special award from the Ed and Mary Shea Family Foundation. Dr. Engvall received an honorary degree in Medicine from the University of Copenhagen in November 1994.

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