April 2010

Member Spotlight

Corbett Appointed Chairman of Biochemistry

Spotlight---CorbettJohn A. Corbett has been appointed chairman and professor of biochemistry at The Medical College of Wisconsin. Prior to his appointment, Corbett was at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where he was the Nancy R. and Eugene C. Gwaltney family-endowed chair in juvenile diabetes research as well as a professor of medicine and director of the comprehensive diabetes center.

Corbett’s research is directed at uncovering the mechanisms responsible for diabetes development. His studies are focused on the mechanisms regulating metabolic function and health of insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas. Corbett’s laboratory also is engaged in research focused on inflammation and the innate immune responses activated during a viral infection.

Corbett is also a member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board.

Lefkowitz Wins Frontiers of Knowledge Award

Spotlight---LefkowitzRobert J. Lefkowitz, the James B. Duke professor of medicine and biochemistry at Duke University, has been awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine. According to the foundation, he earned the award “for his discoveries of the seven transmembrane receptors (G protein-coupled receptors), the largest, most versatile and most therapeutically accessible receptor signaling system, and of the general mechanism of their regulation.”

Lefkowitz’s work on G protein-coupled receptors, the largest and most pervasive family of cell receptors, began in 1982 with the identification of the gene for the β-adrenergic receptor, which helps regulate the body’s fight-or-flight response by reacting to epinephrine. Shortly thereafter, he discovered seven additional adrenergic receptors. Those receptors— and all G protein receptors— share a basic structure in which the molecule weaves its way back and forth seven times across a cell’s membrane. When the portion of the molecule that lies outside the cell connects with the receptor’s favored signaling molecule, the internal portions of the molecule can trigger the appropriate cellular response. Lefkowitz is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

The BBVA Foundation supports knowledge generation, scientific research and the promotion of culture. Its awards are meant to recognize and encourage world-class research and artistic creation, prizing contributions of broad impact for their originality and theoretical significance.

Frey to Give Hammes Lectureship

Spotlight---FreyPerry A. Frey, professor emeritus of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Enzyme Research, has been selected to present the second Gordon Hammes American Chemical Society Biochemistry Lecture at the 2010 ACS national meeting in August. The lectureship recognizes an individual who has had a major impact on research at the interface between chemistry and biology, particularly in the realm of biochemistry, biological chemistry, molecular biology and biophysics.

Frey has made numerous contributions to enzymology, including establishing the chemical mechanisms for the reactions catalyzed by uridine diphosphate galactose 4 epimerase and galactose 1 phosphate uridylyltransferase and developing methods for the synthesis of nucleoside pyrophosphorothioates with chiral [18O]-labeled phosphorothioate groups and using these chiral compounds to determine the stereochemical course of enzyme-catalyzed thiophosphoryl transfers. He also carried out important studies on the bond order and charge delocalization at phosphorothioates. And, his studies on the bacterial enzyme lysine 2,3-aminomutase provided critical insight into the mechanism of action of this member of the large radical SAM superfamily of enzymes.

Frey also served on the editorial board for the Journal Biological Chemistry from 1983 to 1988.

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