All Press Releases for October 15, 2020

Dr. Ching Kung Celebrated for Dedication the Field of Research

Dr. Kung is the authority on the molecular basis of mechanosensitivity research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

    MADISON, WI, October 15, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Dr. Ching Kung has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

Backed by decades of expertise in electrophysiology, genetics, microbiology and education, Dr. Kung was honored as Emeritus Vilas Professor of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015. Over the years, he worked at the University's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the School of Medicine and Public Health in varying roles.

In the 1970s and 80's, Prof. Kung combined electrophysiology and genetics to show that membrane excitability (the generation of action potential as in nerves) can be altered or even eliminated by single-gene mutations in Paramecium. At that time, ion channels, which are the material basis of excitability, were known for their activities but were without material basis. Prof. Kung made the first connection between bioelectricity and genes.

Later, the Kung laboratory continued their interdisciplinary research on genetically accessible microbes, including bacteria and yeast. Most importantly, they discovered stretch-activated ion channels MscL and MscS in the bacterium E. coli. In an ultimate reductionistic experiment, they showed that purified MscL, reconstituted into artificial lipid bilayer, responds to stretch of artificial lipid bilayer under a patch clamp. This work and later developments established the Force-from-Lipids (FFL) principle. FFL has now been shown to operate in a large number of ion channels such as TRAAK, TREK1, Piezo1, NMDA receptor, and TRPA1 from various animal tissues. FFL is applicable to all membrane proteins including the best-known K+ channels in neurons. Previously, mechanical forces are thought to be transmitted by filaments, such as actin or microtubules. The Force-from-Lipids principle forms a new paradigm on how mechanical forces are detected by plants. animals, and microbes.

In recognition of his work on microbial ion channels, especially on the FFL principle, Prof. Kung was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences (USA) in 2011, in the section of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Dr. Kung earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in the late-1960s and completed postdoctoral studies at Indiana University and the University of California Los Angeles.

Outside of his research, Dr. Kung indulges in his love of oil painting. For more than 40 years, he has fostered an interest in Western-style techniques in combination with Chinese art sensibility through such subject matter as classical landscapes, social commentaries and still lives. See

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