February 2010

ASBMB Member Spotlight

Kozarich Garners Distinguished Scientist Award

Spotlight---KozarichJohn W. Kozarich, chairman and president of ActivX Biosciences Inc., received the 2009 Distinguished Scientist Award from the San Diego section of the American Chemical Society for his work on identifying protein kinase and protease targets for screening drug candidates. The award, created in 1992, also recognizes Kozarich’s contributions to academic and industrial research, teaching, corporate leadership, mentoring young scientists and philanthropy.

In addition to his role at ActivX, Kozarich is chairman of the board at Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., chief scientific adviser at Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and adjunct professor of biotechnology and chemical physiology at The Scripps Research Institute. He previously held faculty positions at the University of Maryland and Yale University School of Medicine, and, from 1992 to 2001, he was vice president at Merck Research Laboratories, where he was responsible for a number of research programs.

Kozarich is internationally known for his work on enzyme mechanisms and the chemistry of DNA-cleaving antitumor drugs and has received numerous awards and served on many committees in the academic, government and business sectors.

Schreiber Receives Wheland Medal

Spotlight---SchreiberStuart L. Schreiber, Morris Loeb professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University, has received the 2009-2010 Wheland Medal from the University of Chicago’s department of chemistry.

The medal, awarded every other year in memory of the physical-organic chemist George Wheland, recognizes a scientist who has made outstanding contributions to chemistry. Past recipients include Frank H. Westheimer, Harden M. McConnell, Nelson Leonard, Fred Wudl, Robert L. Baldwin and Robert H. Grubbs.

Schreiber is director of chemical biology and founding member of the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He is best known for having developed systematic ways to explore biology, especially disease biology, using small molecules and for his role in the development of the field of chemical biology. He discovered principles that underlie information transfer and storage in cells, specifically discoveries relating to signaling by the phosphatase calcineurin and kinase mTOR, gene regulation by chromatin-modifying histone deacetylases and small-molecule probes of difficult targets and processes that directly relate to human disease.

Richard Presented with Schoellkopf Award

Spotlight---RichardJohn P. Richard, professor of chemistry at the State University of New York, Buffalo, was named the winner of the 2009 Jacob F. Schoellkopf Award, given annually by the American Chemical Society Western New York section for outstanding work and service in chemistry or chemical engineering. Richard was cited for his “outstanding research in the field of physical organic and bioorganic chemistry; specifically, the study of reaction mechanisms of biologically significant enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactions.”

Richard’s early work focused on the mechanisms of organic reactions in water that serve as models for enzyme-catalyzed reactions. These include nucleophilic substitution and proton transfer reactions at carbon and catalysis of phosphate diester hydrolysis by metal ion complexes. His research program since has expanded to include studies of the mechanisms for the stabilization of reactive intermediates at the active sites of enzymes, such as beta-galactosidase, triosephosphate isomerase, isopentenyl pyrophosphate isomerase and orotidine 5’-monophosphate decarboxylase. This has led to work that defines the critical role of flexible protein loops in stabilizing reactive enzyme-bound intermediates.

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