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Arthur C. Cope Scholar Awards: William F. DeGrado

January 15, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 3

Photo of William Degrado.

Sponsor: Arthur C. Cope Fund

Citation: For ushering in a new era in which proteins came to be considered in much the same way that organic chemists had considered small molecules.

Current position: professor of pharmaceutical chemistry and investigator at the Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco

Education: B.A., chemistry, Kalamazoo College; Ph.D., chemistry, University of Chicago

DeGrado on what he hopes to accomplish in the next decade: “We wish to develop an active knowledge of protein structure, dynamics, and function to enable de novo design of functional proteins. I think chemists will soon be able to design proteins from scratch that bind highly functionalized small molecules with high affinity and specificity, as well as enzymelike catalysts for reactions that cannot be catalyzed with nature’s cofactors. It would also be exciting to go well beyond the backbones optimized by nature, as in foldamer research.”

What his colleagues say: “Bill was among the first to design a protein and convincingly characterize its properties. Ultimately, this work enabled the design of catalytic and medically important proteins and protein mimetics. His work has inspired a generation of bioorganic chemists and chemical biologists who are now engaged in various aspects of protein and drug design.”—Hang Hubert Yin, University of Colorado, Boulder

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