Debbie Hansen

Debbie Hansen

Associate Research Professor, Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery
Associate Faculty, Biodesign Center for Innovations in Medicine


Dr. Debbie T. Hansen joined ASU in 2012. She has been developing recombinant technologies for over a decade, and her publications have been cited 1300+ times. Dr. Hansen is currently a member of the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery (CASD) and the NIGMS PSI:Biology Center for Membrane Proteins in Infectious Diseases (MPID), both directed by Dr. Petra Fromme. Dr. Hansen develops technologies to support the highly challenging atomic-resolution structural determination of integral membrane proteins that are central to disease processes. Her recent work includes the first report of the efficiency of genetic immunization for generating antibody reagents against membrane proteins. Her recent co-authored publications include the first reported lipoprotein structure from the causative agent of tularemia and development of a recombinant vaccine candidate for AIDS. Dr. Hansen collaborates with the Biodesign Center for Innovations in Medicine, directed by Dr. Stephen A. Johnston, where she has also contributed to vaccine development against cancer and the African swine fever virus.

Prior to ASU, Dr. Hansen was a Research Assistant Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina where she co-developed a novel recombinantly-expressed and active form of human telomerase, the RNA-protein complex that is central to cancer and aging. At Yale University, as a Post-doctoral Fellow and an Associate Research Scientist with Dr. Dieter Söll, Dr. Hansen elucidated the origins of the fundamental biochemical pathways of protein translation that are used by the three domains of life. She was also the first to characterize both the recombinant archaeal tRNA amidotransferase protein complexes and the molecular basis of discrimination by the archaeal aspartyl-tRNA synthetases.

Dr. Hansen earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Georgia, where she identified novel biochemical pathways and developed genetics tools for diverse microbes. She acquired skills in classical microbial genetics during her B.S. studies in Genetic Biology at Purdue University. Currently at ASU, Dr. Hansen leads collaborations to develop technologies that enable the structural and mechanistic elucidation of membrane proteins, which will provide a basis for the structure-based development of therapeutics. She enjoys extremely challenging research that by its nature requires a highly collaborative and analytical approach.