Donald Engelman progressed from a BA in Physics at Reed College and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics from Yale, via Postdoctoral stays at The University of California at San Francisco and King's College London to join the Yale faculty. His research efforts have produced papers on a number of topics, but the main focus has been on the structure of biological membranes. Most recently, there has been intense effort on the uses of a pH dependent membrane insertion peptide to image and deliver molecules to the cells in acidic tissues, including tumors.
He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and has held several visiting appointments in Grenoble, Cambridge, Stanford, and Paris. He has served in a number of capacities at Yale, including Chair of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Chair of the Biological Sciences Advisory Committee, and Acting Dean of Yale College. Service outside of Yale includes numerous panels, study sections, councils, and committees at the National Institutes of Heath, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences.
Honors include membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.