News

April 4, 2019

Testing the water harvester

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has released the results of its first search for the Top Ten Emerging Technologies in Chemistry. Initiated as a special activity in honor of IUPAC’s 100th anniversary this year, the results have been published in the 2019 April-June 2019 issue of Chemistry International. Research from the lab of Omar Yaghi on water harvesting from desert air technology has been featured as one of the top 10.

DNA origami could change the way we alter plants

new research reported from the lab of Markita Landry, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at UC Berkeley, a team of scientists has taken an original approach of using DNA origami nanotechnology to slip through plant cell walls and graft small interfering RNA (siRNA) directly onto plant cells. Their research shows it is possible to directly silence genes in plants without damaging plant tissues, and without making any alterations to the plant’s genome.

April 2, 2019

NanoEP experiment

For the first time ever, scientists have imaged the process by which an individual immune system molecule is switched on in response to a signal from the environment, leading to the critical discovery that the activation process involves hundreds of proteins suddenly coming together to form a linked network through a process known as a phase transition.

March 29, 2019

NanoEP experiment

A new technique developed by University of California, Berkeley, nanomaterials scientists has overcome the overcome the obstacles to delivering macromolecules using inexpensive lab equipment to efficiently infuse large macromolecules into cells. Called nanopore-electroporation, or nanoEP, the technique gently creates fewer than a dozen tiny holes in each cell that are sufficient to let molecules into the cell without traumatizing it. The pores heal rapidly afterward. In tests, more than 95 percent of the cells survived the procedure. .

March 28, 2019

Frances Arnold

At 15, she was a class-skipping, catch-me-if-you-can maverick hitchhiking to D.C. to protest the Vietnam War. Looking back on those years now, Frances Arnold says, “Fifteen is one of those terrifying ages, where you’re frustrated because you know something’s wrong, but you have no idea how to fix it. So I did what I could, which is protest. “But as I’ve gone through my life,” she continues, “I know that it’s my responsibility to fix it. I’m much better at fixing things than protesting.”

Frances Arnold

A team of researchers, including faculty from Northwestern Engineering and UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry, has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted drugs and therapeutics throughout the body.

March 22, 2019

University of California, Berkeley, scientists developed new Cas9 variants that could make CRISPR safer. (kirstypargeter/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

One big challenge facing the development of CRISPR gene editing for use in humans is the fear that the Cas9 "scissors" used in the technology could cause unintended off-target effects. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have come up with a potential solution: a “switch” mechanism that could keep the Cas9 enzyme turned off until it reaches its target site.

In a recent study co-authored by CRIPSR pioneer Jennifer Doudna and published in the journal Cell, the UC Berkeley team described how they used an engineering technique called circular permutation to create Cas9 variants, "ProCas9s," that allow CRISPR to be turned on only in the targeted cells.

March 15, 2019

High-quality bespoke nanocrystalsTiny, easy-to-produce particles, called quantum dots, may soon take the place of more expensive single crystal semiconductors in advanced electronics found in solar panels, camera sensors and medical imaging tools. Although quantum dots have begun to break into the consumer market – in the form of quantum dot TVs – they have been hampered by long-standing uncertainties about their quality. Now, a new measurement technique developed by researchers at Stanford University and UC Berkeley may finally dissolve those doubts.

Michelle ChangUC Berkeley researchers, led by Professor of Chemistry Michelle Chang, have discovered a biosynthetic pathway that makes amino acids containing terminal alkynes. Because such functional groups are rare in natural products, they provide a handle for chemistry that’s not generally found in biological organisms. For example, chemists could use such groups to attach fluorescent dyes to proteins via click chemistry.

Steven Hetts, MD, UCSFA research team from UCSF, UC Berkeley and 3D Printer Carbon, Inc. have created a drug sponge to absorb excess chemotherapy medication. The sponge is being designed so that after the chemotherapy has gone through the tumor, the part that hasn't treated the tumor could bind to the device, absorbing the excess dose like a "drug sponge." At the end of the procedure, the device is removed from the body, preventing the spread of toxicity throughout the body. "

March 13, 2019

Ripple MilkGraduates of the College’s Chemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering departments are making news as they become market innovators with their recent startups and products. News stories about Lygos, Chemistry and Ripple look at the latest chemistry innovations and funding for these companies.

March 11, 2019

Michael Boreen and Trevor LohreyThis year's grand prize in campus lab safety was awarded to the Arnold lab group in Chemistry, headed by Professor of Chemistry and Undergraduate Dean John Arnold. Lab safety coordinators and chemistry graduate students Michael Boreen and Trevor Lohrey were also aknowledged and on hand to accept the award for the group in February."

March 9, 2019

John Hartwig In a press release issued in January by the Wolf Foundation in Israel, it was announced that Professors John Hartwig and Stephen Buchwald (MIT) had been jointly awarded the 2019 Wolf Prize in Chemistry for independently harnessing cross coupling for the making of carbon-heteroatom bonds. The Foundation noted, “These bonds and especially the carbon-nitrogen bonds are immensely important, because such bonds constitute a very basis of medicinal chemistry."

March 8, 2019

Frances ArnoldFrances Arnold admits it will be an emotional moment Friday when, as winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, she’ll be the featured attraction at UC Berkeley for a Dean’s Dinner and reception at the College of Chemistry.

March 7, 2019

Jean M.J. FréchetNew research led by Professor emeritus Jean M.J. Fréchet, a leading American chemist, has led to the development of innovative polymeric carriers for transportation of drugs and vaccines inside the human body, and the design of electroactive polymers used for organic transistors and solar cells. For his pioneering work in these areas, Professor Frechet has recently been awarded the 2019 King Faisal Prize in Science.

March 4, 2019

Emily DerbyshireAs alumna Emily Derbyshire was wrapping up her PhD in 2008 at UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry and considering where to do her postdoc, Derbyshire gravitated toward malaria. “It was a problem that was not getting a lot of attention at the time,” despite its large human impact, she says. That’s what led her to dissecting mosquito throats: the idea was to head off malaria when it first invades and transforms within a host’s liver cells, which the parasite needs to do in order to proliferate and move on to the next stage in its life cycle, infecting red blood cells.

March 3, 2019

Frances ArnoldIn the early 1980s, the lab of College biomolecular engineer Harvey Blanch brought together an adventurous group of young researchers and launched them on long and successful careers. One of them, Caltech professor Frances Arnold, has won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discoveries in the directed evolution of enzymes. Arnold is the fifth woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry since it was first awarded in 1901.

February 28, 2019

Jennifer DoudnaIn this interview, Doudna argues for caution when contemplating changes to the human genome that could be passed down for generations. She remains a forceful advocate for the potential of CRISPR in basic research, as well as its medical and biotech applications. “I think when you understand how things work, you can apply them more effectively. And once you apply them, you invariably uncover things that you didn’t understand about the fundamental biology of that system,” Doudna said. “I love that kind of interplay.”

February 27, 2019

Jean Fréchet named 2019 King Faisal Prize in Science winnerProfessor Jean M. J. Fréchet, UC Berkeley professor emeritus and Allen Bard, Professor of Chemistry at UT Austin have been named co-Laureates of the 2019 King Faisal Prize in Science. The award, announced on January 13, cites Fréchet's pioneering work and seminal contributions in the areas of convergent synthesis of dendrimers and their applications, chemically amplified photoresists and organic photovoltaics. A ceremony honoring the Laureates will be held in March.

Scientists in the lab of Jay Keasling grow marijuana chemicals using yeast UC Berkeley synthetic biologists have engineered brewer’s yeast to produce marijuana’s main ingredients—mind-altering THC and non-psychoactive CBD—as well as novel cannabinoids not found in the plant itself. Medical research on the more than 100 other chemicals in marijuana has been difficult, because the chemicals occur in tiny quantities, making them hard to extract from the plant. Inexpensive, purer sources—like yeast—could make such studies easier.