Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry

Dr. Jordan Meier, Chemical Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

For outstanding research in biological chemistry of unusual merit and independence of thought and originality.

Dr. Jordan Meier is the recipient of the 2021 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry. Science in the Meier lab focuses on defining – at the molecular level – how metabolism regulates epigenetic signaling in cancer. Metabolite-protein interactions occur in all living organisms and represent an essential interface between chemistry and our biological code, and Dr. Meier’s work has provided the foundation for new approaches to manipulate this critical axis by advancing two fundamental areas.

First, his laboratory is driving the characterization of novel drivers of epigenetic modifications such as non-enzymatic acylation and RNA acetylation. These mechanisms represent “dark matter” in biology, whose existence has been previously postulated, but whose global functions have been difficult to interrogate due to a lack of methods. Second Dr. Meier’s research is providing a mechanistic understanding of how protein and nucleic acid modifications are conditionally regulated by metabolites. Here, his laboratory’s research has enabled physical determination of the proteome-wide binding landscape of two essential metabolites — acetyl-CoA and fumarate – facilitating the discovery of new mechanisms and strategies to target cancers driven by dysregulated metabolism. The Meier laboratory’s approach to studying the metabolic regulation of epigenetics is problem-driven and characterized by its creativity, employing techniques ranging from chemical proteomics to bioorthogonal reactivity to next-generation sequencing. By characterizing novel protein-metabolite interactions and enzyme activities in complex physiological contexts, his group’s research seeks to provide essential mechanistic underpinnings for understanding this frontier area of biological research, with significant application in basic science and clinical contexts.

Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry

Professor Amie Boal, Pennsylvania State University

For outstanding work in enzyme chemistry where the presence of enzyme action is unequivocally demonstrated.

Professor Amie Boal is the recipient of the 2021 Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry in recognition of the extensive contributions she and her laboratory have made toward understanding enzyme function. Prof. Amie Boal received her PhD in Chemistry from Caltech in 2008 working under the direction of Prof. Barton and completed her postdoctoral studies with Prof. Rosenzweig at Northwestern. Currently, she is a tenured faculty member at Penn State University in the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Chemistry. Prof. Boal has largely focused her independent studies on a variety of metalloenzymes that carry out complex reactions in nature, ranging from nucleic acid biogenesis to natural product biosynthesis. Her three overarching objectives are: 1) identification of the key outcome-dictating structural characteristics of a given catalyst, 2) reprogramming for new function using insight from structure, and 3) understanding the adaptive advantages in choice of metallocofactor or assembly pathway.

In each of these projects, her structural biology approach has been critical to gaining mechanistic or regulatory insights into the enzymology of the system. These experiments are challenging due to the fleeting and reactive nature of the intermediate states, but the results can be uniquely informative because of the fully contextualized view they provide at critical points in catalysis. Notable examples of Prof. Boal’s successes include revealing the structural basis for methyl transfer by radical SAM enzymes, the discovery and characterization of ribonucleotide reductases that employ unusual mechanisms for substrate activation, including novel metal-free systems, and uncovering mechanisms and intermediates involved in catalysis by mononuclear nonheme iron dependent 2-oxoglutarate dioxygenases. Building on earlier recognition with an NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award and a NIH Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award, the extensive independent contributions by the Boal lab have also been recognized by Searle Scholars Program and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. It is our honor to further this recognition with the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry as we look forward to her future contributions.

The Repligen Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes

This award is no longer supported.  Division members are working to establish new funding in order to continue this tradition honoring luminary biochemists who have shaped our field.  If you would be willing to help, or know of possible sources of support for this long-standing award, please contact the division via Wayne Outten (OUTTENF@mailbox.sc.edu) or Anne-Frances Miller (afmill3r2@gmail.com).  Thank you.

Gordon Hammes ACS Biochemistry Lectureship

Professor JoAnne Stubbe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

For outstanding contributions in scientific research at the interface of chemistry and biology, particularly in the realm of biochemistry, biological chemistry and molecular biology.

In accordance with the mandate to recognize ‘an established investigator for outstanding contributions in the field of biological chemistry’, Prof. JoAnne Stubbe has been chosen to receive the 2020 Gordon Hammes ACS Biochemistry Lectureship. The Gordon Hammes Lecture Award is sponsored jointly by Biochemistry and the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry.  Prof. Stubbe is an icon known across biological chemistry for her creative, rigorous, fearless, undaunted pursuit of truth in biochemistry. From single-electron chemistry through coordinated movements of domains, Prof. Stubbe has established new paradigms and given us a legacy of brilliant discoveries.  On top of her own hard-won successes, she distinguishes herself in the energy and time she has devoted to mentoring. In her teaching and in simple conversations at posters, Prof. Stubbe has inspired an untold number of younger biochemists and an extensive network of collaborators. Her impact extends well beyond her numerous excellent publications. With 98 papers in Biochemistry and a record of service to this journal, as well as the Division of Biological Chemistry, it is eminently fitting that we honour her with the award that represents the close collaboration between us and a community of scholars. This is a small testimony of appreciation for the outstanding contributions of all kinds, and the extraordinary biochemical journeys she has led us on.

Stubbe will present a talk and receive her award during the Gordon Hammes ACS Biochemistry Symposium at the 260th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, held in San Francisco, Aug. 16-20, 2020.

Gordon Hammes ACS Biochemistry Scholar Award

Professor Can Araman, Leiden University

To honor the young scientists responsible for the very best papers published in Biochemistry.

Dr. Can Araman is the recipient of the 2020 Gordon Hammes Scholar Award. The Gordon Hammes Scholar Award honors the young scientists responsible for the very best papers published in Biochemistry. Established in 2017 and awarded alongside the Gordon Hammes Lectureship Award, the Scholar Award seeks to recognize those at the bench – graduate students, postdocs, and undergraduates – for the outstanding work they do. The award is sponsored jointly by Biochemistry and the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry.

Dr. Araman has been selected to receive the Gordon Hammes Scholar award, on the basis of his 2019 first-author paper in Biochemistry entitled “ Amyloid-like behavior of site-specifically citrullinated myelin oligodendrocyte protein (MOG) peptide fragments inside EBV infected B-cells influences their cytotoxicity and autoimmunogenicity” with co-authors M. van Gent, N. Meeuwenoord, N. Heijmans, M. H. S. Marqvorsen, W. Doelman, B. W. Faber, B. A.  ́t Hart. and S.I. van Kasteren.  Dr. Araman’s accomplishments stood out on the basis of his work spanning peptide synthesis through brain immunology to explain disease, all the while combining creativity with thoroughness and precision. He has taken a leadership role in his lab, had two grants funded and is contributing lectures to a course, as a postdoc.  His award-winning achievement is his demonstration that amyloid formation is stimulated by the presence of citrulline side chains in autoimmune epitopes important in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS).  The conversion of naturally-occurring arginine to amyloidogenic citrulline occurs via the action of an enzyme whose activity is elevated following infection with Epstein Barr virus (EBV), explaining the correlation between EBV infection and MS.

Dr. Araman will present a talk describing his research and receive his award during the Gordon Hammes ACS Biochemistry Symposium at the 260th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, held in San Francisco, Aug. 16-20, 2020.

The ACS Chemical Biology Lectureship

Professor Suzanne Walker, Harvard University

For contributions that have had a major impact on scientific research in the area of Chemical Biology.

The 2021 ACS Chemical Biology Lectureship Award was presented to Professor Suzanne Walker. The award is sponsored jointly by ACS Chemical Biology and the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry.

Suzanne Walker earned her B.A. in English Literature at the University of Chicago where she did research in Professor David Lynn’s laboratory before applying to graduate school in Chemistry. She completed her PhD at Princeton University in 1992 under the supervision of Professor John Groves. She was appointed Instructor of Chemistry at Princeton where she started a research program studying bacterial cell wall biosynthesis and, after six years in this non-tenure track position, she was promoted to associate professor with tenure. Two years later she was appointed Professor of Chemistry at Princeton. Seeking greater exposure to cutting-edge biology, she moved in 2004 from Princeton’s Chemistry Department to the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. She is an affiliate of Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and is a founder and current director of Harvard’s PhD Program in Chemical Biology.

Walker’s research program is characterized by the creative use of chemical, biochemical, and genetic tools and methods to understand the biological problems that interest her. A major focus throughout her career has been to understand how the bacterial cell envelope is built and how the components of the cell envelope function together to allow bacteria to survive; a key goal has been to identify new vulnerabilities that can be exploited to treat antibiotic-resistant infections. She will talk about some of her work on the bacterial cell wall during the ACS Chemical Biology Award Lecture.

Professor Walker has received a number of awards and honors for her work, including an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Emil T. Kaiser Award in Protein Chemistry, an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and the Andrew Braisted Lectureship Award in Chemical Biology. She has also been elected to the American Society for Microbiology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. Here, Professor Walker wishes to acknowledge that the many brilliant students and postdocs she has been privileged to work with over the course of her career are really responsible for the recognition she has been given!

The Biopolymers Murray Goodman Memorial Prize

Professor Eric Kool, Stanford University

For outstanding accomplishments in one or more of the areas of biochemistry, biophysical chemistry, biophysics, and/or chemical biology.

Professor Eric Kool is the recipient of the 2019 Biopolymers Murray Goodman Memorial Prize for his seminal contributions to DNA and RNA chemistry, including dramatic alterations of the nucleobases to decipher hydrogen bonding, base stacking and other molecular recognition aspects of nucleic acids and their protein partners. His contributions provide molecular tools for the study of cellular biopolymers and extend the reach of synthetic polymers to new applications. Eric is currently The George A. and Hilda M. Daubert Professor in Chemistry at Stanford University. He also belongs to Bio-X, Stanford’s interdisciplinary biosciences institute, the Maternal & Child Health Research Institute, the Stanford Cancer Institute, and is affiliated with Stanford ChEM-H, an institute bringing together physical sciences and engineering with medicine and human biology with the goal of tackling challenges in human health.

There are many highlights to Eric’s multiple contributions to the field. These include the development of rolling circle amplification based on circular oligonucleotides, and the idea that non-hydrogen bonding isosteres of DNA bases can function normally as part of DNA, showing that polymerase replication can occur without Watson-Crick hydrogen bonding. He went on to use modified DNA bases to investigate the role that aromatic stacking plays in DNA structure and thermodynamics, and has also developed new, size-expanded oligonucleotides, called xDNA, that increase the information that can be encoded by a DNA sequence and could be used to study the DNA replication machinery.