Dr. Walter Herzog

Killam Memorial Chair

University of Calgary

Changing long-held beliefs about muscle function

As one of the foremost experts in muscle biomechanics, Dr. Herzog’s innovative research has revolutionized our understanding of muscle contractility. His pioneering work on isolated sarcomeres demonstrated that force did not exclusively depend on actin-myosin overlap, as assumed for fifty years, but also depended critically on the structural protein titin. His break-through research opened new fields, replaced long-held beliefs on contractility, and influenced clinical thinking on muscle function.

The Killam Memorial Chair is considered the most prestigious, multi-disciplinary chair at the University of Calgary. Needless to say I am tremendously honoured and humbled by this award and the possibility it provides to pursue my research interests in a supportive and privileged environment.

Benefits of Killam Funding:
Killam funding has benefited me in many different ways. I have been a multiple recipient of University Killam Fellowships which allowed me to write two scientific books. I also received a Canada Council Killam Fellowship which allowed me to focus exclusively on research for two years, unencumbered by teaching and administrative duties. This particular award came at a crucial time when my lab was in transition to develop cutting-edge technologies which then allowed us to do first-ever research on dynamic contractions of single sarcomeres, and observations of live cell mechanics in intact joints, approaches that provided insights that changed the way scientists think about these topics. I also benefitted from Killam scholarships to my graduate students, and finally now, through the Killam Memorial Chair, I am in a secure financial position which allows for strategic planning of my research spanning a decade or more which would otherwise not be possible.

Why did you choose the University of Calgary?
I came to the University of Calgary because of the promise of the Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology (then Physical Education), Roger Jackson, and the Director of the Human Performance Lab (Benno Nigg) to make this place one of the best research centres in the world. Following my postdoctoral training, I was offered a faculty position in Kinesiology by the Dean at that time, Warren Veale. Dr. Veale had a great vision on how to implement kinesiology research into universities. He was then followed as Dean by Ron Zernicke, a great leader and supporter of my work. So, the reason why I came to Calgary, and ultimately stayed, was directly linked to the superb leadership of our faculty in the first 20 years of my academic career

Update: The term of Dr. Herzog’s Killam Memorial Chair was renewed (2016-2021); and in 2018, he was awarded the Canada Council Killam Prize in Engineering.


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