Nobel-Winning Chemist Will Deliver Opening Keynote Address

Early last month, Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Ph.D., awoke to answer a phone call that would change her life. A Nobel committee member from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was calling to tell her that she was being awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Ph.D.

Just a few weeks later, on Thursday, Nov. 10, Bertozzi will deliver the Opening Keynote Address at ABRCMS 2022. She will present her lecture, “The Bioorthogonal Chemistry Journey, From Bench to Bedside,” from 8:45 – 9:15 a.m. in ACC North 100 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Bertozzi was awarded the Nobel Prize for her trailblazing development of bioorthogonal chemistry, a class of chemical reactions that are compatible with living systems and enable researchers to explore molecular imaging and drug targeting without interfering with natural biological processes. Her work builds on the previous work of Karl Barry Sharpless, Ph.D., and Morten P. Meldal, Ph.D., who laid the foundation for a functional form of chemistry—click chemistry—in which molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently. The three are sharing the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which they will receive in December during the annual Nobel award ceremony.

“Carolyn Bertozzi took click chemistry to a new level,” according to a press release from The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. “To map important but elusive biomolecules on the surface of cells—glycans—she developed click reactions that work inside living organisms. Her bioorthogonal reactions take place without disrupting the normal chemistry of the cell.”

Bertozzi’s discoveries have been used to explore the way cells build proteins, to develop cancer medications and to track biological processes, among many other applications.

“Research at the interface of chemistry and biology has always been where I practice and having a Nobel Prize in chemical biology is really great for the field,” Bertozzi told Stanford News. “The field is not so old, but the impact is clear.”

Her organization, The Bertozzi Group, develops chemical tools to study the glycobiology of diseases such as cancer, inflammation, tuberculosis and COVID-19. Her lab also has developed new therapeutic methods for the targeted degradation of extracellular molecules and studied the rare genetic disease of NGLY1 deficiency. Several of the technologies developed by The Bertozzi Group have been integrated for commercial use.

Bertozzi is the Baker Family Director of Stanford Sarafan ChEM-H, a group of interdisciplinary researchers and clinicians specializing in chemistry, engineering, biology and medicine working to solve major challenges in human health. According to a statement from Bertozzi on the organization’s website, “ChEM-H is a hub of innovation that brings the power of diversity to improve human health: diversity of disciplines—life, physical and clinical sciences—and most importantly, diversity of people.”

Bertozzi also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry, and a professor of chemical and systems biology and radiology (by courtesy) at Stanford University. She is actively engaged with several biotechnology startups, cofounding Redwood Bioscience, Enable Biosciences, Palleon Pharmaceuticals, InterVenn Bio, OliLux Bio, Grace Science LLC and Lycia Therapeutics.

Named a MacArthur Fellow at age 33, Bertozzi was one of the youngest ever to earn the prestigious “genius” award. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. For her excellence as a professor, Bertozzi received the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award and the Noyce Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Register for ABRCMS 2022

It’s not too late to register for the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS), the go-to conference for underrepresented scientists at various stages of their professional and educational journeys. ABRCMS includes programming for undergraduate students, graduate and postdoctoral scientists, faculty, program directors, administrators and more.

ABRCMS 2022 is being held Nov. 9-12 in Anaheim, Calif. Can’t make it in-person? The meeting features a virtual component so you can still participate in this dynamic event.