Susan Serota Taylor, President of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1995, was born in Racine, Wisconsin. She received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin (1964) and a Ph.D. in physiological chemistry from Johns Hopkins University (1968). She then spent 3 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. Upon returning to the United States, Taylor joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego first as a postdoctoral fellow (1971 to 1972), and then as an assistant professor (1972–1979). As she moved through the ranks to become full professor in 1985, she was awarded a Fogarty International Fellowship and served as vice chair and then acting chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In 1997, she became an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Taylor is known for her structure-function analysis of protein kinases and their role in signal transduction in cells. In 1991, she solved the three-dimensional crystal structure of the catalytic subunit of cyclic-AMP–dependent protein kinase in collaboration with Janusz M. Sowadski. The structure was the first protein kinase structure to be solved and continues to provide a prototype for all protein kinases. Today, Taylor's research continues to focus on cyclic-AMP–dependent protein kinase. She studies its structure, function, and dynamics by using biochemical, biophysical, and recombinant approaches.
Taylor was appointed a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Her many awards and honors include the National Institutes of Health Career Development Award, the Forefronts of Large Scale Computation Award, and the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal from the American Chemical Society.