Schepartz appointed director of Chemical Biology Institute

Alanna Schepartz, the Milton Harris ‘29 Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry, has been named director of the Chemical Biology Institute at the West Campus. Schepartz was chair of the faculty advisory committee that convened to help define and develop the institute over the past year.

“This institute is a major step toward assembling a group of world-class researchers who focus on interdisciplinary and molecular solutions to significant problems that impact human health, energy and the environment,” Schepartz says. “I’m honored to have the chance to help shape and guide it.”

Schepartz will retain her position as professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and will split her time between the West Campus and Science Hill.

“Alanna is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of chemical biology, and we are fortunate that she is willing to commit her substantial energy toward the development of this institute,” said Scott Strobel, vice president of West Campus planning and program development. “She has great scientific taste and a clear vision of what the West Campus Chemical Biology Institute will become.”

The institute will promote innovation at the intersection of different scientific disciplines — not only in chemistry and biology but also engineering, physics and medicine. Chemical biology involves both the design and synthesis of new molecules to tackle problems that arise in biology and medicine, as well as the development of new reactions, materials and processes inspired by those found in nature.

For the past two years, Schepartz has organized a series of lectures on chemical biology to help identify and attract researchers from around the world to the West Campus. Already, the institute has recruited Jonathan Ellman from the University of California-Berkeley and Andrew Phillips from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Schepartz came to Yale from Caltech in 1988 as Yale’s first hire in chemical biology. Over the past 23 years, her lab has consistently broken new ground in designing and developing new molecules as tools to monitor, manipulate or mimic interactions between and among proteins in live cells. Her lab’s work on developing the first synthetic protein in the lab was named as one of 2007’s “most important research advances” in the field of chemistry by Chemical & Engineering News.

In addition to many other honors, Schepartz has received Harvard’s Frank H. Westheimer Prize Medal and was the inaugural recipient of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Chemical Biology Prize. In 2010 she was named a fellow of both the ACS and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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