Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


by Ethan Garner

May 14th, 2013


Professor Carolyn Bertozzi will deliver the 2013 Paul Doty Lecture on May 16th, 2013. This lecture is presented annually to celebrate the scientific and public policy achievements of Professor Paul Doty, founder of both the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (currently, Molecular and Cellular Biology) and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.
Carolyn Bertozzi will present her lecture, titled “Bioorthogonal Chemistry, an Enabling Tool for Biology and Drug Development” at 12 pm in room B-103 of the Northwest Building. Professor Bertozzi’s group works to develop and apply tools to label molecules inside living cells. Specifically, her research focuses on both profiling and understanding of cell surface oligosaccharides involved in cell recognition and inter-cellular communication. She is credited for developing the field of bioorthogonal chemistry, where reactive groups such as azides can be harnessed to label biomolecules – such reactions are designed to not interfere with native biochemical processes inside cells.

Bertozzi uses these chemical tools to identify and probe protein glycosylation in both tumor and stem cells, and also to image the changes in glycosylation that occur during development and disease progression. Her group applies these approaches to study the surface carbohydrates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, as these molecules give these pathogens protection from the extracellular environment and the ability to invade human cells.

Bertozzi gained a B.S. in Chemistry from Harvard University working with Joe Grabowski and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of California, Berkeley under Mark Bednarski. She also completed postdoctoral work at University of California, San Francisco in the field of cellular immunology prior to joining the University of California, Berkeley faculty. She has received many honors and awards for her work, including the MacArthur Fellowship, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, the T.Z. and Irmgard Chu Distinguished Professorship in Chemistry, and is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Doty was the Mallinckrodt Professor of Biochemistry Emeritus and also Director, Emeritus, of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which he founded at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1974. He passed away on December 5, 2011.

As a biochemist, Doty elucidated the structure and function of large molecules, ranging from the polymers in plastics and fibers, to polypeptides and polynucleotides. He is perhaps best known for demonstrating the denaturation of the double-stranded DNA molecule and its reuniting through hybridization; this technique was key to the era of recombinant DNA research.

As an advocate for arms control, Doty led and participated in many initiatives to bring Russian and American scientists together in pursuit of international security, making more than 40 trips to the Soviet Union. He was a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) during the Kennedy Administration. After retirement, he continued working in this area, for example serving as board member of Soros' International Science Foundation that provided critical research support to Russian scientists in the 1990s.