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Carlos Barbas III, 49, Dies

Obituary: Scripps chemist’s pioneering research aided drug and vaccine development

by Elizabeth K. Wilson
July 10, 2014

Credit: Photo courtesy of Scripps Research Institute
Carlos Barbas III
Credit: Photo courtesy of Scripps Research Institute

Carlos Barbas III, 49, a well-known organic and biological chemist, died on June 24 after a battle with a rare form of medullary thyroid cancer.

Barbas was the Janet and Keith Kellogg II Chair professor and member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.

He pioneered research that melded molecular biology, chemistry, and medicine. His work involving biologically crucial science, including asymmetric catalysis, zinc finger technology, synthetic antibodies, and protein-like DNA enzymes, has led to numerous potential drug and vaccine development avenues.

Born on Nov. 5, 1964, Barbas received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. He earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Texas A&M University in 1989, working with Chi-Huey Wong, who is now also a professor at Scripps.

Barbas then spent two years doing postdoctoral work at Pennsylvania State University, first with chemistry professor Stephen Benkovic, and later, at Scripps, where he worked with former Scripps President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Lerner.

In 1991, Barbas became a professor in the molecular biology department at Scripps, where he remained for the rest of his career. He was also the founder of CovX Pharmaceuticals, Zyngenia, and a co-founder of Prolifaron, Barbas is survived by his wife, Annica; and four children, Derek, Sabrina, Sixten and Viggo.


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