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Two chemists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been selected by the American Chemical Society (ACS) to receive a pair of prestigious awards honoring early-career research in biological and enzyme chemistry. Associate Professors Matthew Disney, PhD, and Kate Carroll, PhD, will be recognized at the fall 2013 ACS symposium, to be held in Indianapolis.

Disney has won the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, first awarded in 1934. The award is given to a young scientist under the age of 38 for outstanding research in biological chemistry of unusual merit and independence of thought and originality.

“It is a great honor to have been selected to receive this award,” Disney said. “I am still in shock because of the quality of the previous winners, many of whom I have looked up to as standard bearers in my field. This award was granted because of the excellent, dedicated work of our team.”

Previous winners of the Eli Lilly Award include TSRI faculty members Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman, Peter G. Schultz and Benjamin Cravatt.

One of the major promises of the human genome project has been to identify and exploit disease-associated genes for therapeutic intervention, but these studies are sparse. The Disney group is working to fill this void by designing therapeutics targeting gene products that are disease-associated from only sequence. In initial applications of this approach, the team has developed compounds to target a variety of genetic abnormalities that cause diseases including myotonic dystrophy, Huntington’s disease and cancer.

Carroll has received the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry, established in 1945. The award, given to an individual under 40 who has accomplished outstanding work in enzyme chemistry, is aimed at stimulating fundamental research in enzyme chemistry.

“I am honored to be selected for this award, which also reflects the outstanding efforts of the graduate and postdoctoral researchers who have been associated with my laboratory,” Carroll said. “I am extremely fortunate to work with, and learn from, my wonderful colleagues in chemistry and other programs within The Scripps Research Institute.”

Previous Pfizer Award winners include TSRI’s Frank Huennekens, Paul Schimmel and Gerald Joyce.

The award recognizes Carroll’s pioneering work using the tools of chemistry and biology to elucidate protein cysteine oxidation as a new paradigm for the regulation of cell signaling pathways. Her work has important implications for understanding how post-translational modification, the chemical modification of a protein after its synthesis, affects its function. Her team is also leveraging these discoveries to develop new strategies for treating diseases that have a strong oxidative stress component, including cancer and diabetes.

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