Member News

Partch wins NAS Award in Molecular Biology

Laurel Oldach
Jan. 24, 2022

The National Academy of Sciences announced today that Carrie Partch, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has received its Award in Molecular Biology, which recognizes a “recent notable discovery in molecular biology by a young scientist who is a citizen of the United States.”

Partch studies the molecular mechanisms of circadian signaling in mammalian and bacterial cells. Her lab is interested in protein complexes that assemble and disassemble, or change conformation, in a rhythmic way regulated by phosphorylation or other post-translational changes, enabling cells to keep time even when circadian cues are removed.

Carrie Partch

Cryptochromes are key circadian signaling proteins, and Partch is interested in their structure. Two cryptochromes in mammals belong to a transcription factor complex that represses transcription when they are present, but activates it when they are absent. Partch’s team identified an intrinsically disordered region in one of the two cryptochromes, which controls how tightly the protein’s folded domain can bind to the transcription factor, and reported a mechanism by which the loss of that region causes a human condition called delayed phase sleep disorder.

Meanwhile, Partch’s lab also studies a much simpler circadian system found in cyanobacteria, which behave differently by day and night. In collaboration with the labs of Andy LiWang and Susan Golden, they developed a method to monitor interaction between proteins in this system, which researchers knew can  reconstitute a post-translational oscillator that will run for days. By adding upstream and downstream signaling proteins, the team demonstrated how rhythmic DNA binding can be regulated through autophosphorylation and conformational changes.

Working with circadian biologist Aziz Sancar, Partch earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She conducted postdoctoral research in two labs at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and has been on the faculty at UC Santa Cruz since 2011.

The Award in Molecular Biology, one of 18 annual awards the National Academy of Sciences announced today, includes a prize of $25,000.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Laurel Oldach

Laurel Oldach is a former science writer for the ASBMB.

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in People

People highlights or most popular articles

ASCB honors Asai, Goley and Bagde
Member News

ASCB honors Asai, Goley and Bagde

Dec. 5, 2022

These three ASBMB members have won recognition from the American Society for Cell Biology.

ASBMB delegates leave their mark on policymaking
Feature

ASBMB delegates leave their mark on policymaking

Dec. 1, 2022

Advocacy Training Program participants use their new skills to improve their institutional environments, create new programs, draft policy recommendations, perform targeted outreach and more.

2022 Sewer scholarship winners announced
Society News

2022 Sewer scholarship winners announced

Nov. 28, 2022

The $2,000 award goes to undergraduates who demonstrate an interest in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology and enhance the diversity of science.

Brought to you (mostly) by and for women
Annual Meeting

Brought to you (mostly) by and for women

Nov. 23, 2022

The ASBMB’s Women in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Committee has big plans for Discover BMB 2023.

Dedicated to sharing science
Student Chapters

Dedicated to sharing science

Nov. 21, 2022

Introduced to scientific research through her Tufts University ASBMB Student Chapter, Lema Abuoqab works to make sure other students can have the same experience.

Tolbert named HHMI VP; new phase for Hannun
Member News

Tolbert named HHMI VP; new phase for Hannun

Nov. 21, 2022

Awards, promotions, milestones and more. Find out what's going on in the lives of ASBMB members.