Prof. Sabine Petry is originally from Germany and played professional basketball while finishing High School. Sabine then studied Biochemistry at the Goethe University and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt, where she became interested in structural biology. She performed her thesis research with Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan (Nobel Prize Chemistry) at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (UK). During her Ph.D., she solved crystal structures of classical translation factors bound to the entire ribosome, work that helped increase our knowledge of how translation factors drive protein synthesis in the ribosome.
In 2008 Sabine joined the laboratory of Ron Vale (Lasker and Gairdner Awards) at UCSF as a postdoctoral HHMI Fellow of the Life Science Research Foundation, where she pursued the study of a less understood and larger molecular entity, the mitotic spindle. Her research focused on understanding how microtubule nucleation is regulated in the mitotic spindle, which is poorly understood. It led to the discovery of a new microtubule nucleation mechanism, in which microtubules arise by nucleation from existing microtubules. Microtubule branching helps explain many unresolved aspects of how the mitotic spindle is assembled, and raises new questions about its role in building the microtubule cytoskeleton of the cell.
Since 2013, Sabine has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, and is Associated Faculty of the Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, as well as Chemistry. In her lab, she is tackling how the microtubule cytoskeleton builds cellular structures by combining single molecule imaging and cell biological methods with high-resolution structural techniques. Sabine has been recognized with the NIH Pathway to Independence Award, the Kimmel Scholar Award for Cancer Research, the Packard Award for Science and Engineering, and the NIH New Innovator Award. She is also a Pew Fellow of the Biomedical Sciences.
In 2019, she received the Women in Cell Biology Junior Award for Excellence in Research by the American Society of Cell Biology.