David Atkinson, PhD
Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
Pharmacology, Physiology & Biophysics

PhD, Council for National Academic Awards
BSc, The City University

Pronouns: he/him/his

The long standing objectives of my research are to provide the detailed structural and dynamic description of the plasma lipoproteins and apolipoproteins that is crucial to understanding the molecular mechanisms of such physiological processes as lipoprotein formation, receptor interactions, lipoprotein inter-conversions, and apoprotein exchange together with the changes in these characteristics that underlie the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis. Our research has been a component of a Program Project since its inception in 1980 and I have led the Program since 2001, taking over from Dr. Small. Building on initial training in diffraction methods and biophysics, I have maintained and expanded my expertise in state-of-the-art methods of molecular biophysics and structural biology including crystallography, electron microscopy/image processing, calorimetry and thermodynamics, circular dichroism, and molecular modeling/mechanics to probe the structure-function relationships of the lipoproteins and apolipoproteins. This includes a one year sabbatical at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England developing electron microscopy.

My long standing research program has involved many collaborations with current and past Program Project investigators, particularly Drs. Gursky, Small, and McKnight. Our previous work over more than three decades has focused on the structural and thermodynamic properties of specific lipoproteins (HDL and LDL), and apolipoproteins, particularly apoA-1, together with studies of the LDL receptor. We derived the first structural description of HDL, nascent HDL and LDL using x-ray methods. Our mutation studies of the conformation, stability, and lipid binding properties have contributed to providing a framework for understanding the molecular properties of apoA-1. Furthermore, our studies of peptides representing segments of apoA-1, together with “idealized” sequence models, have provided information on the role of specific residues and domains, and their interactions in the structure and stability of apoA-1. For LDL, we pioneered the use of cryo-electron microscopy to study LDL structure and used mAb labeling to investigate the topology of apoB. In collaborations with Dr. Graham Shipley, a long standing collaborator and colleague, our approach for the LDL receptor has focused on structural studies of the functional extracellular domain of the receptor reconstituted into lipid vesicles.

Research Professor
Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Boston University
Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute

Apolipoprotein A-1 and HDL: Structure, Formation and Function
08/01/2014 - 06/30/2019 (PI)
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Yr Title Project-Sub Proj Pubs
2017 Apolipoprotein A-l and HDL: Structure, Formation and Function 5R01HL116518-04 11
2016 Apolipoprotein A-l and HDL: Structure, Formation and Function 5R01HL116518-03 11
2015 Apolipoprotein A-l and HDL: Structure, Formation and Function 5R01HL116518-02 11
2014 Apolipoprotein A-l and HDL: Structure, Formation and Function 1R01HL116518-01A1 11
2010 Structural and Cell Biology in Cardiovascular Disease 5P01HL026335-30 235
2010 Adminstration and Data Processing 5P01HL026335-30-9004 235
2010 Lipoprotein Structure and Apoprotein Conformation 5P01HL026335-30-3 235
2009 Structural and Cell Biology in Cardiovascular Disease 5P01HL026335-29 235
2009 Lipoprotein Structure and Apoprotein Conformation 5P01HL026335-29-3 235
Showing 10 of 46 results. Show All Results

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Gorshkova IN, Meyers NL, Herscovitz H, Mei X, Atkinson D. Human apoA-I[Lys107del] mutation affects lipid surface behavior of apoA-I and its ability to form large nascent HDL. J Lipid Res. 2023 Feb; 64(2):100319.View Related Profiles. PMID: 36525992; PMCID: PMC9926306; DOI: 10.1016/j.jlr.2022.100319;
  2. Shipley GG, Tall AR, Atkinson D. In Memoriam: Donald MacFarland Small (1931-2019). J Lipid Res. 2019 May; 60(5):911-912.View Related Profiles. PMID: 33722375
  3. Liu M, Mei X, Herscovitz H, Atkinson D. N-terminal mutation of apoA-I and interaction with ABCA1 reveal mechanisms of nascent HDL biogenesis. J Lipid Res. 2019 01; 60(1):44-57.View Related Profiles. PMID: 30249788; PMCID: PMC6314262; DOI: 10.1194/jlr.M084376;
  4. Gorshkova IN, Mei X, Atkinson D. Arginine 123 of apolipoprotein A-I is essential for lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase activity. J Lipid Res. 2018 02; 59(2):348-356.View Related Profiles. PMID: 29208698; PMCID: PMC5794428; DOI: 10.1194/jlr.M080986;
  5. Melchior JT, Walker RG, Cooke AL, Morris J, Castleberry M, Thompson TB, Jones MK, Song HD, Rye KA, Oda MN, Sorci-Thomas MG, Thomas MJ, Heinecke JW, Mei X, Atkinson D, Segrest JP, Lund-Katz S, Phillips MC, Davidson WS. A consensus model of human apolipoprotein A-I in its monomeric and lipid-free state. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2017 Dec; 24(12):1093-1099.View Related Profiles. PMID: 29131142; PMCID: PMC5749415; DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.3501;
  6. Gorshkova IN, Atkinson D. Increased Binding of Apolipoproteins A-I and E4 to Triglyceride-Rich Lipoproteins is linked to Induction of Hypertriglyceridemia. JSM Atheroscler. 2017; 2(2).View Related Profiles. PMID: 28597004; PMCID: PMC5460632
  7. Mei X, Liu M, Herscovitz H, Atkinson D. Probing the C-terminal domain of lipid-free apoA-I demonstrates the vital role of the H10B sequence repeat in HDL formation. J Lipid Res. 2016 Aug; 57(8):1507-17.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27317763; PMCID: PMC4959866; DOI: 10.1194/jlr.M068874;
  8. Mei X, Atkinson D. Lipid-free Apolipoprotein A-I Structure: Insights into HDL Formation and Atherosclerosis Development. Arch Med Res. 2015 Jul; 46(5):351-60.View Related Profiles. PMID: 26048453; PMCID: PMC4522339; DOI: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2015.05.012;
  9. Gorshkova IN, Mei X, Atkinson D. Binding of human apoA-I[K107del] variant to TG-rich particles: implications for mechanisms underlying hypertriglyceridemia. J Lipid Res. 2014 Sep; 55(9):1876-85.View Related Profiles. PMID: 24919401; PMCID: PMC4617355; DOI: 10.1194/jlr.M047241;
  10. Das M, Mei X, Jayaraman S, Atkinson D, Gursky O. Amyloidogenic mutations in human apolipoprotein A-I are not necessarily destabilizing - a common mechanism of apolipoprotein A-I misfolding in familial amyloidosis and atherosclerosis. FEBS J. 2014 Jun; 281(11):2525-42.View Related Profiles. PMID: 24702826; PMCID: PMC4047191; DOI: 10.1111/febs.12809;
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This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 76 publications over 34 distinct years, with a maximum of 7 publications in 1986


2008 Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine: Excellence in Teaching in the Basic Sciences
In addition to these self-described keywords below, a list of MeSH based concepts is available here.

biophysical methods
Molecular Biophysics
Structural Biology
structural electron microscopy
x-ray crystallography

I have a long association with graduate training and the M.D./Ph.D. program at BUSM. I have served as a member of the M.D./Ph.D. Excecutive Committee and The Graduate Ph.D. Steering Committee since 2000. Over the past 35 years I have served as primary advisor/mentor for 15 Ph.D. students and as second reader/mentor for an additional ~35 students together with 6 post doctoral research associates. I have directly mentored four M.D./Ph.D. students and and I have been secondary advisor to approximately six additional M.D./Ph.D students in the program over the last 30 years. I currently serve as academic advisor to a group of 13 M.D./Ph.D. students. I have been an active mentor in the EMSSP program, the Summer Training as Research Scholars (STaRS) program and the Research Internship in Science & Engineering (RISE) Program for ~10 students. As Chair of the Physiology and Biophysics Department, I have instituted formal mentoring programs for junior, newly recruited faculty. Additionally, I participate twice yearly as a mentor in a school wide grant writing “boot camp” for new faculty and postdoctoral fellows run by a member of the faculty of my department.

Available to Mentor as: (Review Mentor Role Definitions):
  • Advisor
  • Career Mentor
  • Co-Mentor or Peer Mentor
  • Education Mentor
  • Project Mentor
  • Research / Scholarly Mentor
Contact for Mentoring:
  • Email (see 'Contact Info')

700 Albany St Ctr for Adv Biomed Res
Boston MA 02118
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