Professor JoAnne Stubbe will receive the 2020 Priestley Medal at at ACS’ Spring 2020 National Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia. The annual award, named for chemistry pioneer Joseph Priestley, is the highest honor the American Chemical Society bestows. This award recognizes her pioneering studies of enzymatic radical chemistry, long-range proton-coupled electron transfer, DNA cleavage by anti-cancer drugs, enzymatic formation of polyesters and purine biosynthesis.
Professor Stubbe is the Novartis Professor of Chemistry and Biology, emerita, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has authored more than 300 papers, including over 140 in ACS Publications journals. Professor Stubbe joined the faulty of MIT in 1987, devoting most of her time to studying ribonucleotide reductases, which she has called “some of nature’s most-complex and important enzymes.”
“Dr. Stubbe is a true pioneer in biochemistry,” says ACS Executive Director and CEO Thomas Connelly Jr., Ph.D. “Her efforts in studying ribonucleotide reductases, among other major accomplishments, have had a profound impact across the scientific landscape and the world at large. I can think of none more deserving of this award, and I extend my sincerest congratulations.”
Her first major discovery was figuring out how ribonucleotide reductase catalyzes the conversion of ribonucleotides, the building blocks of RNA, to deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks of DNA — an essential role in DNA repair and replication. She also worked out the mechanism of action of cancer drug bleomycin. Her works has inspired similar studies in a host of other enzymes, leading to new cancer drugs.
In addition to several previous ACS national awards, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992, received the 2008 National Medal of Science and 2010 Welch Award in Chemistry, among many other accolades.
“JoAnne Stubbe is an excellent choice to receive the 2020 Priestley Medal. Her research into the mechanisms of key biochemical enzymes has significantly advanced the field. Her passion for the science has made her a role model for young women and men alike,” says ACS President Bonnie Charpentier, Ph.D. “And I’m especially proud to welcome her into the prestigious ranks of the Priestley Medalists as only the fifth woman to receive this honor.”