2022 ASBMB fellows named
The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology today announced that 28 members have been named fellows of the scientific society.
Designation as a fellow recognizes outstanding commitment to the ASBMB through participation in the society in addition to accomplishments in research, education, mentorship, diversity and inclusion, advocacy, and service to the scientific community.
Judith S. Bond, a former ASBMB president, is a member of the Membership Committee, which developed the fellows program.
“Many congratulations to our 2022 fellows! You make our society strong, provided leadership, contributed to the core missions of the society, and honor us by your participation in society activities,” Bond said.
Edward Eisenstein, who leads the Membership Committee, added that the selected fellows displayed a broad range of experiences, accomplishments and service to the ASBMB.
“The new fellows include a past president, council members, committee members and editors, as well as a previous executive director of the society,” said Eisenstein, an associate professor at the University of Maryland.
The fellows will be recognized at the 2022 ASBMB Annual Meeting, which will be held in person in the April 2022 in Philadelphia in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference.
The event recognizing fellows will be at 8 a.m. April 3 during the opening ceremony.
Learn more about the 2022 fellows below.
Vahe Bandarian is a professor at the University of Utah. His lab studies the biosynthesis of complex natural products. The lab reconstituted key steps in the biosynthesis of the highly modified transfer RNA base queuosine, which often is used as a tRNA wobble base. They are also interested in the microbial enzymes that modify peptides to produce a large class of natural products that can have antimicrobial or cytotoxic effects.
He is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Minority Affairs Committee, the Women in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Committee, and a member of the advisory board for the society’s Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers, or MOSAIC, program. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Catherine Drennan, who nominated Bandarian, wrote, “His CV has example after example of newly discovered chemistry, newly discovered enzymes and biochemical mysteries solved.”
Jeffrey Benovic is a professor at Thomas Jefferson University. His research focuses on the mechanisms that regulate G protein–coupled receptor signaling, with a particular emphasis on the role of GPCR kinases and arrestins. His lab discovered a mechanism for GPCR internalization, a key regulator of receptor signaling.
Benovic is a past member of the ASBMB Publications Committee, Finance Committee and Council. He’s also a past member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board. He was nominated as an ASBMB fellow by colleague Steven McMahon, who wrote, “Dr. Benovic’s investigations opened up an entire new field of study … (and) his contributions to biochemistry extend well beyond his own scientific discoveries.”
Ralph Bradshaw is a professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine, and professor of pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego. His research focused on nerve growth factor, fibroblast growth factor and their receptors, using proteomics and phosphoproteomics to understand growth factor signaling. Some of his scientific contributions were captured in this Journal of Biological Chemistry “Classic” article marking the journal’s centennial.
He was the first editor-in-chief of the ASBMB journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics and served on the editorial board and as an associate editor of JBC for nearly 30 years. He also served on many ASBMB committees, including what was then known as the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Minority Groups, the Nominating Committee, the Membership Committee and the Public Affairs Advisory Committee. In addition, he served on the Council and as the society’s treasurer and historian, producing a history of the ASBMB in 2009. Bradshaw was nominated as an ASBMB fellow by 2021 fellows Dan Raben and William Merrick and former ASBMB President Gerald Hart. Merrick wrote, “I can think of no one who has devoted more time and energy to the ASBMB in his almost 60 years as a researcher.”
David Brautigan is a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, where he studies the biochemistry of signal transduction by protein kinases and phosphatases. His lab has investigated multiple Ser/Thr phosphatases, the actions of different inhibitor proteins and how phosphorylation affects protein phosphatase activity.
He has served the ASBMB in many roles, including terms as a Council member and Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board member. He also served on committees for human resources, educational affairs and public affairs. He has represented the ASBMB on a committee for the International Union for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and on the board of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, for which he was elected vice president for science policy. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Brautigan was nominated as a fellow by colleague John Lazo.
Al Burlingame is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, where he directs the mass spectrometry facility. His research team uses proteomic techniques to study diverse protein-level challenges, including the role of post-translational protein modifications in signaling and the regulation dynamics of protein assemblies and machines.
He was a co-founder of the ASBMB journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, of which he now serves as editor-in-chief; he is an elected fellow of the AAAS and organizes two annual ASBMB symposia in proteomics. Deputy editor Steven Carr, who nominated Burlingame as an ASBMB fellow, wrote, “He has worked tirelessly on behalf of biological mass spectrometry and proteomics community. … Al has been a strong and passionate spokesman for our field.”
William Clemons is a professor at the California Institute of Technology who studies post-translational processing of membrane proteins. His lab focuses on membrane targeting and translocation of tail-anchored proteins, which use a different membrane insertion system than the typical signal recognition particle; Clemons’ lab studies the alternative machinery that inserts protein tails into the membrane. A second line of research focuses on optimizing membrane protein expression, which makes the proteins easier to study; his lab observed that insertion into the membrane governs the efficiency of expression of variant proteins and developed a prediction tool to help others select targets to study that are expressed efficiently in E. coli.
Clemons is a member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board and has served on the ASBMB annual meeting organizing committee. Douglas Rees, a fellow Caltech professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, nominated him for fellowship in the ASBMB, praising his “fearlessness in tackling significant biological hurdles” and his commitment to advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion in science.
Anita Corbett is a professor at Emory University, where she studies the function of evolutionarily conserved RNA binding proteins such as the RNA exosome complex and poly(A) RNA binding proteins. Her research explores the role of these proteins in gene expression and development. She was the inaugural winner of the ASBMB Mid-Career Leadership Award, which is administered by the society’s Women in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Committee. She currently serves on the Public Affairs Advisory Committee and as a member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board and sponsors Emory’s Student Chapter of the ASBMB.
Corbett was nominated by Emory colleague Christine Dunham, who also became a fellow this year, and who praised her advocacy for colleagues, especially junior scientists and women in science.
Paul Craig is a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. His research focuses on education: He develops educational software to simulate and help visualize laboratory experiments such as electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. He is a founder of BASIL, the biochemistry authentic scientific inquiry lab, a course-based undergraduate research experience focused on doing authentic research. For this work, Craig received the ASBMB Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education in 2018. He is a member of the ASBMB Today editorial advisory board, previously served on the Education and Professional Development Committee, and regularly has volunteered for the undergraduate poster competition at the ASBMB's annual meeting.
“Paul is the epitome of an outstanding teacher–scholar,” wrote colleague Lea Michel in a nomination letter.
Dennis Dean is a distinguished professor and was the founding director of the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech. His lab studies the mechanism for biological nitrogen fixation and the biological pathways for assembly of simple and complex metalloclusters. Their research focuses on the enzymes that produce iron–sulfur clusters, a co-factor that is important for many redox reactions including nitrogen fixation, photosynthesis and respiration.
Squire Booker, who nominated Dean, wrote that “it can be argued that he is the father of the field of ironsulfur cluster biogenesis.”
He is a former member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board and the ASBMB Publications Committee.
Christine Dunham is a professor at Emory University. Her lab studies how regulation of protein synthesis alters critical aspects of cellular function in ways that are essential for life. Her current research focuses on how RNA modifications, bacterial toxins and antibiotics affect gene expression. Dunham is a member of the editorial board of the society’s Journal of Biological Chemistry and was elected to the ASBMB Publications Committee in 2020. She was a Pew Biomedical Scholar, a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator and a recipient of an National Science Foundation CAREER Award. Dunham has received awards from the American Crystallographic Association and the National Academy of Sciences, and won the ASBMB Young Investigator Award in 2019.
She was nominated by Emory colleague Anita Corbett, who wrote, “In her research group, Dr. Dunham has tackled critical scientific questions that are key ... to addressing one of the most pressing clinical challenges of the day in antibiotic resistance.”
Barbara Gordon is the former executive director of the ASBMB. She began working for the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 1972 and went on to manage the society’s meetings and its journals before being appointed executive director in 2003. During her tenure, she oversaw the journals' transition to online publishing and, most recently, their transition to open access. She also oversaw the formation of new committees, such as the Women in BMB committee, and programs. such as the IMAGE grant-writing workshop, the new MOSAIC program for diverse young investigators, and the undergraduate degree-accreditation program, certification exam and poster competition. She retired in 2021.
Gordon was nominated by Gaylen Bradley, the emeritus dean of basic health sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, who wrote, “Barbara Gordon has made exceptional contributions to the Society and its programs over and above her role as an employee.”
Susanna Fletcher Greer is the senior director for clinical cancer research and immunology at the American Cancer Society. Prior to taking that post, she was a tenured professor at Georgia State University, studying major histocompatibility complex signaling in cancer. She was a member of the ASBMB Science Outreach and Communication Committee from 2013 to 2020 and led the committee from 2016 to 2019. In addition, she has been an instructor and course developer for the society’s Art of Science Communication course. She is also a member of the ASBMB’s Council and Finance Committee.
Greer was nominated by Nicole Woitowich and Matt Koci, who serve with her on the ASBMB’s Science Outreach and Communication Committee. They wrote, “She is a champion for broader representation among scientists, and making science more accessible to the public and stakeholders.”
J. Silvio Gutkind
J. Silvio Gutkind is a professor and chair of the pharmacology department at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. He also is associate director of basic science at Moores Cancer Center. Gutkind studies G proteins and their receptors. His lab found that G protein and GPCR mutations can be oncogenic, and his studies revealed the protein–protein interaction networks that connect GPCRs to intracellular signaling cascades, such as MAP kinases, Ras and Rho GTPases and the PI3K-mTor and Hippo-YAP pathways. For many years, he was the chief of a cancer branch at the National Institutes of Health; since moving to UCSD, he has continued to pursue a research interest in oral cancers and their mechanisms, with emphasis on precision and immune therapies.
Gutkind is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and twice has served as an editorial board member for the ASBMB’s Journal of Biological Chemistry. He was nominated by 2021 ASBMB fellow Sarah Spiegel, who praised both his scientific achievements and his commitment to mentoring and developing scientists from diverse backgrounds, adding, “Silvio is a scientific superstar and one of the preeminent biomedical scientists active in the U.S., indeed in the world.”
Yusuf Hannun is director of the Stony Brook Cancer Center and vice dean for cancer medicine at Stony Brook University. As a postdoc, he discovered a biological activity for the lipid sphingosine, and he has spent the rest of his career investigating the roles of sphingolipids in cell signaling, programmed cell death and carcinogenesis.
Hannun was a co-founder of the ASBMB’s Lipid Research Division and has served on the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board and the ASBMB Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee. He won the 2011 ASBMB Avanti Award in Lipids. He was nominated as an ASBMB fellow by a remarkable group of 31 colleagues, who wrote, “He brings honor and recognition to the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology.”
Gerald Hart is a professor at the University of Georgia and a member of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center there. Hart co-discovered glycosylation of proteins in the nucleus and cytoplasm at a time when experts thought glycosylation only occurred on secreted proteins. Later, he found that O-linked N-acetylglucosamine, or O-GlcNAc, can be added to serine and threonine phosphorylation sites and acts as a competing signal. His lab continues to explore O-GlcNAc signaling and its interaction with other cellular signals.
He is an associate editor for two of the society’s journals: the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. He is also a past society president and former member of the ASBMB Today editorial advisory board. He received the society’s Herbert Tabor Research Award in 2018.
He was nominated by colleagues Christopher West and Michael Tiemeyer, who wrote, “Jerry is broadly recognized and appreciated as an excellent citizen, always willing to do what is needed to support the group effort. He is approachable to students and faculty colleagues, unpretentious and can be counted on to offer a thoughtful and balanced opinion on wide-ranging issues.”
Eric F. Johnson is a professor at Scripps Research. His work focuses on cytochrome P450 enzymes, membrane-bound enzymes that are expressed in the liver and are very important in metabolizing drugs and other molecules. In the early 2000s, Johnson and colleagues solved the first structure of a microsomal cytochrome P450; this and later structures helped the pharmaceutical industry to design drugs that are less likely to cause drug–drug interactions.
Johnson was nominated by F. Peter Guengerich, who became an ASBMB fellow in 2021 and who called him “a steady colleague to many in the field of drug metabolism, who can always be trusted.” Johnson served five terms as a Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board member and also served as head and interim head of the Scripps biochemistry division. Guengerich added, “Throughout Eric’s career, one of the hallmarks of his research is the very high quality of his work, regardless of the scientific area he works in.”
Daniel Leahy is a professor and former (founding) chair of the molecular biosciences department at the University of Texas at Austin. His lab studies the molecular mechanisms of signaling in the epidermal growth factor receptor and Hedgehog signaling pathways, mutations in which can drive the development of cancer.
He served a term on the ASBMB Council and has helped to organize meeting themes and other society events. He was nominated by colleagues Jessie Zhang, Daniel Raben and Jason McLellan, who praised his leadership of a new merged department at UT Austin and his efforts on behalf of junior researchers, writing, “Dan Leahy’s achievements and leadership have made tremendous impacts on the scientific society and community.”
Alfred Merrill is an emeritus professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His laboratory developed quantitative methods to measure sphingolipids and was a major contributor to mass spectrometry–based lipidomics consortia. Merrill helped delineate how the lipid backbones of sphingolipids are made and how they function in cell signaling and disease.
Merrill is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an associate editor of the Journal of Lipid Research. He was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry for 20 years. George Carman of Rutgers University, who became a fellow in 2021, nominated Merrill. Carman wrote, “Al has made impressive contributions to science through both the discoveries by his laboratory and his assistance to others through service activities.”
Beronda Montgomery soon will begin a new role as the dean and vice president of academic affairs at Grinnell College. Prior to that, she was a professor, assistant provost for faculty development in research, and assistant vice president for research and innovation at Michigan State University. Montgomery’s studies focus on how photosynthetic organisms respond to their environments. In freshwater cyanobacteria, Montgomery has looked at signal transduction pathways controlling growth and development; in land plants, she is interested in how photoreceptors called phytochromes affect growth and behavior. She also has published extensive research on mentoring and academic leadership and written a book called “Lessons from Plants” for popular audiences.
She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Plant Biologists and the American Society for Microbiology. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and previously was on the advisory board of ASBMB Today. MSU’s Thomas Sharkey, who nominated her, said, she “has worked tirelessly to achieve an exemplary record of scholarly research, mentoring, and public service through diversity initiatives ... (and) is a treasured colleague in many spheres of the scientific academy.”
Kim Orth is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she studies the complex interactions between bacterial effectors and host cells in infection, working on pathogens that cause bubonic plague, gastroenteritis and other diseases. She discovered that some bacterial effector proteins can interfere with host cell immune responses by transferring acetyl groups onto phosphorylation sites, inhibiting signaling pathways. She coined the term AMPylation after observing that adenosine monophosphate, or AMP, can be covalently attached to substrate proteins by a bacterial virulence factor; her lab studies the role of AMPylation in the integrated stress response.
Orth serves on the ASBMB Awards, Meetings and Nominating committees and has organized numerous meeting sections and small meetings. She is an HHMI investigator and a National Academy of Sciences fellow and has received the ASBMB Young Investigator Award and the ASBMB–Merck Award. Eric Olson, chair of the molecular biology department at UT Southwestern, wrote in a recommendation letter that Orth’s work “represents a unique convergence of biochemistry and cellular biology with the basic mechanisms of infectious disease.”
Reuben Peters is a professor at Iowa State University who studies diterpenoids natural products, both the complex reactions catalyzed in their biosynthesis and their physiological function. His group has provided enough insight into terpene synthase structure–function relationships to enable redesign of their enzymatic activity and has elucidated an array of physiological roles for the resulting natural products not only in plants, where diterpenoids are widespread, but also in plant-associated bacteria.
He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and on the steering committee of the ASBMB IMAGE grant-writing workshop as well as acting as a mentor during the workshop. Squire Booker, a 2021 ASBMB fellow who nominated Peters and who recruited him to work on the grant-writing workshop, wrote that its “success would not have been possible” without Peters’ insight.
Margaret Phillips is chair of the biochemistry department at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where her research focuses on metabolism in protozoan parasites. Her lab studies essential enzymes controlling pyrimidine biosynthesis in the parasite that causes malaria and polyamine synthesis in the trypanosome that causes sleeping sickness. The lab used structural-guided drug design to optimize and develop pyrimidine synthesis inhibitors with potential to become antimalarial drugs.
She served on the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board for 10 years and chairs the selection committee for the ASBMB’s Alice and C.C. Wang Award in Molecular Parasitology. Phillips, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, was nominated as an ASBMB fellow by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and UTSWMC professor Kim Orth, who wrote that Phillips “exemplifies the curious, clever, efficacious, rigorous and altruistic science that her peers drive to emulate.”
Mary Roberts is a professor emeritus at Boston College. Her research focused on protein–membrane interactions, for which she developed novel NMR techniques, and on how archaea respond to stress by producing osmolytes.
Roberts served as co-chair of the ASBMB Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee twice, in 2019 and 2015. She also served a term on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Lizbeth Hedstrom of Brandeis University, who nominated Roberts as an ASBMB fellow, wrote that Roberts’ “plethora of scientific contributions were facilitated by her generosity, manifest in many successful, lasting collaborations.” Hedstrom also praised Roberts’ commitment to mentorship and her advice for junior colleagues on navigating academia and parenthood.
John Scott chairs the pharmacology department at the University of Washington. Scott’s lab studies the role of anchoring proteins in modulating kinase activity. They discovered the A kinase anchoring protein, which binds to protein kinase A and regulates its activity, and they have developed inhibitors and uncovered roles for the anchoring protein in cytoskeletal organization and synaptic transmission.
He won the ASBMB’s 2008 William C. Rose Award for outstanding research and mentoring. He has served on the ASBMB Council and Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board, and he has organized meetings and programs for the society. Alexandra Newton of the University of California, San Diego, nominated Scott. She wrote: “John is a passionate biochemist … (and) is an outstanding citizen to the biochemistry community.”
Robert Stahelin is a professor at Purdue University. His lab studies protein–lipid interactions, focusing on the interaction between viral proteins and host cell membranes to understand viral replication and seek new drug targets.
He has served as co-director of the ASBMB Lipid Research Division and has been an editorial board member for the Journal of Lipid Research since 2017. He has served as a judge at the undergraduate poster competition at the ASBMB annual meeting and has organized multiple annual meeting workshops devoted to lipid research.
Erica Ollmann Saphire at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology nominated Stahelin as a fellow. She wrote: “Rob’s service and dedication to the lipid research community (specifically the Lipid Research Division of ASBMB), ASBMB and ASBMB society journals have been nothing short of outstanding.”
Alex Toker is the associate director for the Cancer Research Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a professor at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on understanding how the lipid kinase PI(3)K and its downstream signaling pathways affect cancer cell behavior. He is editor-in-chief of the ASBMB’s Journal of Biological Chemistry and won the society’s 2022 Avanti Award in Lipids.
Lila Gierasch, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Toker’s predecessor as JBC editor-in-chief, wrote in her nomination letter that Toker “has the wonderful combination of superb research stature, generous and influential service to his profession (notably ASBMB), and compassionate and effective mentoring that position him perfectly to be selected as an ASBMB fellow.”
Nathan Vanderford is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He is also assistant director for education and research at the Markey Cancer Center, director of administration for the Center for Cancer and Metabolism, and director of the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology Program, or ACTION, an outreach program that he created. His research focuses on cancer disparities, health promotion, and cancer education and training. He is a member of the ASBMB Education and Professional Development Committee and has organized and been a member, twice over, of the Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee.
Vanderford was nominated as a fellow by Xiaoqi Liu, chair of UK’s toxicology and cancer biology department. Liu wrote of Vanderford’s work with ACTION: “Nathan has done what few faculty do in terms of creating a highly innovative and impactful program that is preparing a unique set of underserved students for graduate and professional school and ultimately for a future career in oncology while also enhancing Appalachian Kentucky residents’ understanding of cancer.”
Dennis Voelker is a professor at National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado in Denver and former director of research in the pulmonary division of National Jewish Health. His group studies phospholipid–protein interactions, lipid metabolism, lipid transport and the important role lipids play as surfactants in the lung. He is an associate editor for the ASBMB’s Journal of Biological Chemistry. He won the society’s Avanti Award in Lipids in 2018, chaired the annual meeting, twice served on the Annual Meeting Program Planning Committee and held other positions of leadership relating to society events.
George Carman of Rutgers University, who nominated Voelker and who was among the society’s first class of fellows, said that Voelker “has had a profound influence on our current understanding of lipid synthesis and transport and the roles lipids play in disease” and added that he “provides exemplary service to ASBMB.”
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C. Denise Okafor is an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State and recipient of an NSF CAREER award.
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