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Biological Chemistry

Ronald Breslow Award For Achievement In Biomimetic Chemistry: Thomas W. Muir

by Linda Wang
January 4, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 1

Sponsor: Ronald Breslow Award ­Endowment

Citation: For development and application of expressed protein ligation in the understanding of intracellular signaling pathways such as the histone code for chromatin structure and function.

Current position: Van Zandt Williams Jr. Class of ’65 Professor of Chemistry, chair of the department of chemistry, Princeton University

Education: B.Sc., chemistry, University of Edinburgh; Ph.D., organic chemistry, University of Edinburgh

Muir on his scientific goals: “A principal focus of our lab is studying epigenetic regulation using chemical methods. We are trying hard to develop quantitative methods that allow these complex processes to be better studied in the test tube. Thinking about the distant horizon, I would love to be able to develop precision chemical tools that allow chromatin to be customized in a cellular context, thereby allowing specific biochemical hypotheses relating to gene regulation to be tested.”

What his colleagues say: “Tom Muir has made fundamental contributions to the synthesis of proteins of unusual structure which cannot be made by natural means. He has developed robust and widely used methods of ligating two peptide or protein fragments together to create nonnatural sequence containing proteins. These methods take advantage of natural intein chemistry but also require tremendous insight and intuition in terms of peptide synthesis.”—Kevan M. Shokat, University of California, San Francisco

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