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Scientists to Discuss Frontiers of Chemical Biology

Monday, October 09, 2006

Whether you consume ‘em or curse ‘em, carbohydrates and sugars are crucial to life and health. They also are central to a booming area of science known as glycobiology. Next week in Rochester, scientists will gather to discuss the chemistry of carbohydrates as part of a symposium focusing on the frontiers of chemical biology.

The Harrison Howe Symposium is taking place Monday, Oct. 16, on the University of Rochester campus. The symposium, featuring the research of scientists from around the state, is sponsored by the Rochester chapter of the American Chemical Society, along with the Department of Chemistry at the University of Rochester and the University’s Biophysics and Structural Biology Cluster.

“Chemical Biology is one of the fastest growing areas of research today, with the potential to have an impact on our basic understanding of life as well as providing new strategies for treating disease,” said Benjamin Miller, Ph.D., chair of the Rochester ACS chapter. Miller, an associate professor of Dermatology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Biomedical Engineering, is organizing the symposium.

The Harrison Howe Award of the Rochester ACS chapter will be presented to Laura Kiessling, Ph.D., professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Kiessling will be in good company: About 40 percent of previous winners of the Harrison Howe Award, named for one of the founders of the Rochester chapter, have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Kiessling is best known for her work at the intersection of chemistry and biology, especially for her work on the biological role of carbohydrates. In addition to an extensive research program studying basic chemical signaling, her research interests have included how white blood cells congregate at the site of inflammation, how to stop a toxic protein that accumulates in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and new compounds to fight drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis. Kiessling has received many awards, including a MacArthur Foundation fellowship.

More information on the symposium, which is free and open to the public, can be found here.

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