Suzanne Walker Wins 2021 ACS Chemical Biology Lectureship Award - ACS Axial | ACS Publications
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Suzanne Walker Wins 2021 ACS Chemical Biology Lectureship Award

Professor Suzanne Walker of Harvard University

Every year, ACS Chemical Biology and the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry select a distinguished and well-respected researcher for the ACS Chemical Biology Lectureship Award. Past winners of this honor include Alanna Schepartz (2010), Stuart Schreiber (2011), Carolyn Bertozzi (2012), Wilfred van der Donk (2013), Peter Dervan (2014), Kevan Shokat (2015), Peter G. Schultz (2016), Benjamin F. Cravatt (2017), James A. Wells (2018), Chuan He (2019), and David R. Liu. (2020). This year’s award goes to Professor Suzanne Walker of Harvard University.

Professor Walker earned her B.A. in English Literature at the University of Chicago, where she did research in Professor David Lynn’s laboratory before applying to graduate school for chemistry. She completed her Ph.D. at Princeton University in 1992 under the supervision of Professor John Groves. She was appointed Instructor of Chemistry at Princeton where she started a research program studying bacterial cell wall biosynthesis and, after six years in this non-tenure-track position, she was promoted to associate professor with tenure. Two years later, she was appointed Professor of Chemistry at Princeton. Seeking greater exposure to cutting-edge biology, she moved in 2004 from Princeton’s Chemistry Department to the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. She is an affiliate of Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and is a founder and current director of Harvard’s Ph.D. Program in Chemical Biology.

Professor Walker’s research program is characterized by the creative use of chemical, biochemical, and genetic tools and methods to understand the biological problems that interest her. A major focus throughout her career has been to understand how the bacterial cell envelope is built and how the components of the cell envelope function together to allow bacteria to survive; a key goal has been to identify new vulnerabilities that can be exploited to treat antibiotic-resistant infections. She will talk about some of her work on the bacterial cell wall during the ACS Chemical Biology Award Lecture.

Professor Walker has received a number of awards and honors for her work, including an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Emil T. Kaiser Award in Protein Chemistry, an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and the Andrew Braisted Lectureship Award in Chemical Biology. She has also been elected to the American Society for Microbiology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. Here, Professor Walker wishes to acknowledge that the many brilliant students and postdocs she has been privileged to work with over the course of her career are really responsible for the recognition she has been given!

Professor Suzanne Walker’s Publications from ACS Chemical Biology include: 

Discovery of a Small Molecule that Blocks Wall Teichoic Acid Biosynthesis in Staphylococcus aureus
ACS Chem. Biol. 2009, 4, 10, 875–883
DOI: 10.1021/cb900151k
***
Synthetic Lethal Compound Combinations Reveal a Fundamental Connection between Wall Teichoic Acid and Peptidoglycan Biosyntheses in Staphylococcus aureus
ACS Chem. Biol. 2011, 6, 1, 106–116
DOI: 10.1021/cb100269f
***
A Small Molecule That Inhibits OGT Activity in Cells
ACS Chem. Biol. 2015, 10, 6, 1392–1397
DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.5b00004
***

Join ACS Chemical Biology and the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry at the ACS National Meeting, where Professor Suzanne Walker will be presented with the Lectureship Award. She will be delivering the keynote address for the symposium on Monday, April 5, from 3:10 P.M.-4:00 P.M. Pacific Time.

Scheduled speakers for the ACS Chemical Biology Lectureship Symposium include:

Chemical approaches to control and enhance CRISPR-based technologies
Amit Choudhary
Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Renal Medicine and Engineering

Psychedelics and Related Plasticity-Promoting Neurotherapeutics
David E. Olsen
University of California, Davis

Nitrogen-nitrogen bond formation in natural products biosynthesis
Katherine Ryan
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Human Milk Oligosaccharide Modulation of Inflammation
Steve Townsend
Vanderbilt University, Nashville

Introduction of awardee:
Deconstructing the bacterial cell wall (by putting it back together)
Suzanne Walker
Harvard University

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