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.