Later, in 1998, Wells founded and served as president and chief scientific officer of Sunesis Pharmaceuticals and helped invent a novel drug-discovery platform called Tethering, which efficiently screens molecules to identify the most potent compounds that block specific protein action.
Prior to that, Wells received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1973 and his doctorate in biochemistry from Washington State University in 1979 (working with Ralph Yount). He also took on postdoctoral fellowships at both Washington State University and the Stanford University School of Medicine before joining Genentech in 1982.
“Over his career, Wells has made enormous contributions to our understanding of enzyme mechanisms, allostery, protein plasticity, protein-protein interfaces, small molecule discovery, hormone receptor signaling, molecular recognition, protease signaling and apoptosis,” said Molecular and Cellular Proteomics co-editor Alma Burlingame, who is also a professor of chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF. “Not only has his science led to fundamental discoveries, it also produced new products in both the industrial enzyme and pharmaceutical sectors.”
The ASBMB-Merck Award, presented annually, recognizes outstanding research contributions in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology.
See the December 2008 issue of ASBMB Today to read an ASBMB Roundtable discussion with Wells on improving the global health system.
Angela Hopp (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor for special projects at ASBMB. Nick Zagorski (email@example.com) is a science writer at ASBMB.