Joseph Cotruvo, Jr. Receives the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry

Dear ACS Division of Biological Chemistry members,

I am pleased to announce that Prof. Joseph Cotruvo, Jr. of the Pennsylvania State University is the recipient of the 2024 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry. Prof. Cotruvo is being recognized for his seminal discoveries in the area of the f-block, rare earth element (REE) sensing and biology. His group has described fundamental features of REE coordination chemistry by proteins, and their role in microorganisms. These discoveries have enormous technological implications for the ability to recover specific REEs from electronic waste and other sources, processes of widespread interest to multiple US federal agencies, including the Department of Defense. He has also leveraged these discoveries to engineer what is the first robust manganese-specific biosensor that will be used to uncover novel aspects of Mn(II) biology in cells and disease.

Prof. Cotruvo is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Penn State, having joined the faculty there in 2016. He earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry at Princeton and did his Ph.D. with Prof. JoAnne Stubbe at MIT, where he discovered a novel di-manganese ribonucleotide reductase, providing the first glimpse that this enzyme, essential to all life, has indeed evolved what we now know is extraordinary catalytic diversity. He then trained with Prof. Chris Chang at UC-Berkeley as a Jane Coffin Childs Postdoctoral Fellow, where he was part of a team that was among the first to show that copper could reversibly regulate a mammalian enzyme, coupling in this case, copper status to lipid metabolism. While at Penn State, he received the NSF CAREER Award (2020), the DOE Early Career Award (2020), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship (2021) and the Ed Stiefel Young Investigator Award (2022).

Please join me in congratulating Prof. Cotruvo for receipt of this prestigious award given to a young investigator no more than 10 years beyond the start of their independent position who has carried out outstanding research in biological chemistry of unusual merit and independence of thought and originality.


David Giedroc, Indiana University


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