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 Chuan He, University of Chicago

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

The 2019 ACS Chemical Biology Lectureship Award was presented to Professor Chuan He. The award is sponsored jointly by ACS Chemical Biology and the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry. Professor He is the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago. His recent accomplishments are vast. In 2011, his group discovered reversible RNA methylation as a new mechanism of gene expression regulation at the post-transcriptional level. Since then, he has been selected as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2013), leads Chicago’s first Center for Excellence in Genomic Science (2016), and was one of three recipients of the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research from Memorial Sloan Kettering (2017).

Professor He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1994 from the University of Science and Technology of China and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000. After training as a Damon-Runyon postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, he joined the University of Chicago as an assistant professor, rising to associate professor in 2008 and full professor in 2010. His recent research concerns reversible RNA and DNA methylation in biological regulation. His laboratory has spearheaded the development of enabling technologies to study the biology of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in mammalian genomes. Dr. He presented his work on April 2, 2019 at the 257th ACS National Meeting and Exposition held in Orlando, Florida.

The Biopolymers Murray Goodman Memorial Prize

Professor David Beratan, Duke University

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

Professor David Beratan is the recipient of the 2018 Biopolymers Murray Goodman Memorial Prize for his seminal contributions to the field of electron transfer in biological systems. Dr. Beratan is currently the R. J. Reynolds Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at Duke University and holds Professorships in the Departments of Physics and Biochemistry at Duke. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Pittsburgh. Gaining an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Duke University and a Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology, Professor Beratan went on to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Pittsburgh before returning to Duke in 2001.

Professor Beratan’s theoretical insights into tunnelling pathways of electron transfer in biological macromolecules established physical principles that have been extended to understand the phenomenon in a wide range of systems. His research group works closely with experimentalists and some of the current foci are designing molecular structures and assemblies for solar energy capture and conversion, exploring charge transfer mechanisms in bacterial nanowires and designing de novo proteins to explore proton-coupled electron transfer mechanisms. Professor Beratan presented his work in April 2019 at the 257th ACS National Meeting and Exposition held in Orlando, Florida.