Our genetic information is under constant attack. Luckily, repair proteins are typically hard at work, locating and fixing damaged DNA. Over the past decade, Caltech chemist Jacqueline Barton has been exploring a model that describes how repair proteins might work together in this scouting mission to efficiently home in on lesions or mismatches within the DNA. Recent results from her lab support the model.
A team of researchers at Caltech has devised a new method for making complex molecules. The reaction they have come up with should enable chemists to synthesize new varieties of a whole subclass of organic compounds called nitrogen-containing heterocycles, thus opening up new avenues for the development of novel pharmaceuticals and natural products ranging from chemotherapeutic compounds to bioactive plant materials such as morphine.
On December 15, the Gates Foundation and Grand Challenge Canada announced over $31 million in new grants to help advance healthcare in the developing world. James Heath, Gilloon Professor and professor of chemistry, and Axel Scherer, Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics, and Physics, were among the 12 grant recipients who will be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Caltech was the only organization to receive more than one award.
It has been 25 years since scientists discovered the first high-temperature superconductors—copper oxides, or cuprates, that conduct electricity without a shred of resistance at temperatures much higher than other superconducting metals. Now, two Caltech chemists have developed a hypothesis to explain the strange behavior of these materials, while also pointing the way to a method for making even higher-temperature superconductors.
Rustem Ismagilov, the new John W. and Herberta M. Miles Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech, believes in the ability of science and technology to address significant societal problems—from the spread of HIV and drug resistance to bacterial imbalances in the gut.
André Hoelz, Caltech's newest assistant professor of chemistry, endeavors to fully characterize the nuclear pore complex, a cellular component made up of many copies of about 30 different proteins—perhaps 1,000 proteins in all and 10 million atoms—which forms a transport channel in the membrane of the nuclear envelope. Hoelz calls the complex "the gatekeeper of the nucleus."
Ahmed Zewail, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry and professor of physics at Caltech, has been named one of the Top American Leaders of 2011 by The Washington Post and Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership.
Mark E. Davis and David A. Tirrell of Caltech have been elected to the Institute of Medicine, an honor that is considered among the highest in the fields of health and medicine. Both Davis and Tirrell are already members of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, making them two of only 13 living individuals who have been elected to all three branches of the National Academies.