Biochemistry

A behind-the-scenes look at the longevity vitamin PQQ

July 27, 2020

fruit and vegetables

PQQ has been found in fruits and vegetables, such as papaya, kiwi fruit, spinach, green pepper, parsley, celery, and more. Photo: Wen Zhu.

The first women chemists at Cal

February 5, 2018

Early Women Chemistry Scientists at Cal The College salutes the pioneer women chemistry faculty at Cal. Both as scientists, and as early faculty members at the University, they helped to pave the way for the next generations of women faculty and students.

Professor Richmond Sarpong elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 23, 2020

Richmond Sarpong

The College of Chemistry is pleased to announce that Richmond Sarpong, UC Berkeley Professor of Chemistry and Executive Associate Dean of the College of Chemistry, has been named a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This year, the Academy has elected 276 artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. Sarpong joins fellow members singer Joan Baez and writer Ann Patchett in the 2020 cohort.

The power of change in science

March 9, 2020

women trailblazers

Guided by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, a formidable entrepreneur in her own right, C&EN profiled 15 women working in the Chemical industry in academics and startups in C&EN's 2020 Trailblazers. Four of them are affiliated with UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry. They have collectively launched more than 30 start-ups aimed at developing treatments for rare diseases, building better batteries, and more. They’re chemical scientists at the top of their game. They’re role models building and mentoring teams. And yes, they’re badasses. They live by the motto “Nobody ever got anywhere by listening to no.”

Novel synthetic proteins rival their natural counterparts in proton transport

March 3, 2020

polymer membranes

Biological membranes, such as the "walls" of most types of living cells, primarily consist of a double layer of lipids, or "lipid bilayer," that forms the structure, and a variety of embedded and attached proteins with highly specialized functions, including proteins that rapidly and selectively transport ions and molecules in and out of the cell. Scientists have long sought to develop synthetic membranes that could match the selectivity and high-speed transport offered by their natural counterparts. Now a team led by University of California Berkeley researchers has designed a novel polymer that is as effective as natural proteins in transporting protons through a membrane. The results of their research were published in Nature.

Carolyn Bertozzi’s glycorevolution

February 3, 2020

Carolyn Bertozzi’

Carolyn Bertozzi, the glycoscience evangelist has spent her career illuminating the importance of the sugar structures coating our cells. As she turns from building biological tools to building biotech companies, will she see a new wave of converts?

Frances Arnold turns microbes into living factories

May 28, 2019

Frances Arnold. Photo by Erika Gerdemark for The New York Times.Instead of synthesizing new biochemicals from scratch, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist puts nature to the task — with astonishing results.

PASADENA, Calif. — The engineer’s mantra, said Frances Arnold, a professor of chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, is: “Keep it simple, stupid.” But Dr. Arnold, who last year became just the fifth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is the opposite of stupid, and her stories sometimes turn rococo.

Scientists use DNA origami to alter gene expression in plants

April 4, 2019

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.

Breakthrough Study of Cell Signaling Holds Promise for Immune Research and Beyond

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.

Yeast produce low-cost, high-quality cannabinoids

February 27, 2019

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.