Archive of Stetten Lectures
10/26/2005 3:00 PM
10/26/2005 4:00 PM
Stetten Lecture videocast
An intricate collection of carbohydrates studs the surfaces of all human cells. These often highly branched chains of sugar help define a cell type, yet their structures are dynamic. In being both complex and adaptable, carbohydrates provide a chemical language through which cells communicate. The molecules also reflect the health of the cell they coat. Carolyn Bertozzi has been a pioneer in exploring the carbohydrate landscape--the glycome--of mammalian cells and has made promising progress in efforts to remodel cell surfaces.
Bertozzi, who had an early interest in biology and trained as a chemist, uses the tools of organic chemistry to understand and intervene in biological pathways. She studies how surface carbohydrate patterns change in cells that are cancerous, involved in inflammatory disease, or infected with bacteria, with the goal of exploiting this information to develop ways of diagnosing and treating disease. She has succeeded in tricking the metabolic machinery of cells to cause them to redecorate their surfaces with artificial carbohydrates. Going one step further in this engineering feat, she instigated chemical reactions with the newly installed carbohydrates in living animals. Bertozzi foresees eventually using such precise molecular gymnastics in medicine, for example to specifically tag cancer cells with lethal chemicals or reveal changes in carbohydrate patterns as a disease progresses.
In addition to being a leader in the growing field of chemical biology, Bertozzi has received much recognition as a remarkable teacher. She is a professor of chemistry and of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has been a faculty member since 1996. She is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a faculty member at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she works on the design of biomimetic materials for biomedical implant and nanotechnology applications. Bertozzi also co-directs the chemical biology graduate program at Berkeley, serves on several editorial boards, and is a co-founder of Thios Pharmaceuticals.
Bertozzi received an A.B. in chemistry in 1988 from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1993 from the University of California, Berkeley. She then conducted postdoctoral research in immunology at the University of California, San Francisco.
Bertozzi's honors include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1999 and election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005. Among her many notable awards are two from the American Chemical Society--the Award in Pure Chemistry and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award--as well as the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, the Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award of the Protein Society, and the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. Bertozzi is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She also has 15 issued and pending patents.
NIGMS has supported Bertozzi's research since 1999.
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