Committee Membership Information

Study Title:

Assessing the Importance and Impact of Glycomics and Glycosciences

Study Director:


Dr. David R. Walt - (Chair)
Tufts University

Dr. David Walt is currently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and a Robinson Professor of Chemistry at Tufts University. Dr. Walt recieved his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan ; his Ph.D. in Chemical Biology, with a joint degree in Chemistry and Pharmacology. His research supervisor was Professor Francis Johnson. After finishing his Ph.D., Dr. Walt accepted a Postdoctoral Research Associate position with Professor George Whitesides at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Along with several Adjunct Professor positions, Dr. Walt is also a Founding Scientist, Director, and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for Illumina, Inc. and Quanterix Corporation.


Dr. Katherine Bowman - (Staff Officer)
National Research Council


Dr. Geert-Jan Boons
University of Georgia

Dr. Boons received his M.Sc. in chemistry in 1987 and his Ph.D. in synthetic carbohydrate chemistry in 1991 from the State University of Leiden (Netherlands). Prior to joining the faculty at the CCRC in 1998, he spent seven years in the United Kingdom, first as a postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College, London, and the University of Cambridge, and then as a lecturer and professor at the University of Birmingham. In 2003, Dr. Boons was awarded the Carbohydrate Research Award for Creativity in Carbohydrate Science by the European Carbohydrate Association. Also in 2003, he was elected chairman for the 2005 Gordon Research Conference on Carbohydrates. He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Carbohydrate Chemistry, Advances in Carbohydrate Chemistry and Biochemistry, Glycoconjugate Journal, and the European Journal of Organic Chemistry. In 2004, Dr. Boons received the Horace Isbell Award by the Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and was appointed Franklin Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia. The research of the Boons Group deals with the synthesis and biological functions of carbohydrates and glycoconjugates. The diversity of topics to which the group has significantly contributed includes the development of new and better methods for synthesizing exceptionally complex molecules, the use of new methods in the synthesis and study of properties of complex carbohydrates of increasing size and complexity, the development of synthetic cancer and bacterial vaccines, the design and synthesis of glycosidase inhibitors and the use of synthetic compounds for the study of innate immunity.


Dr. Ram Sasisekharan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ram Sasisekharan received his BS in Physical Sciences from Bangalore University in Bangalore, India; his MS in Biophysics from Harvard University; and his PhD in Medical Sciences from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Sasisekharan is currently the Director of the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology. He is also an Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Sasisekharan is the recipient of the CapCure Award (1998-2001). The Sasisekharan Laboratory employs multidisciplinary strategies to develop and integrate technologies to further study complex polysaccharides that are important to a host of disease processes. A central goal is to develop novel therapeutic approaches to alleviate suffering from disease and promote overall human health. In order to fully appreciate the therapeutic potential of glycan-based strategies, we are developing bioinformatics tools that will organize, integrate, and characterize the enormous amounts of data generated on glycan structure and function. Another thrust of the work is geared towards the development and extension of a variety of technological platforms that could advance our understanding of human health and disease. Prof. Sasisekharan participates in this field by coupling engineering and computational approaches to elucidate complex biomedical phenomena.


Dr. Gerald W. Hart
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Gerald Hart is the DeLamar Professor and Director of Biological Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He received his PhD in developmental biology from Kansas State University in 1977. His lab studies the crosstalk between dynamic GlcNAcylation and phosphorylation of nucleocytoplasmic proteins in signaling, transcription and cellular metabolism, and the roles of abnormal GlcNAcylation in diabetes, neurodegenerative disease and cancer (oncogene and tumor suppressor proteins, in particular). They also are focused on developing improved methods (eg. mass spectrometry and site-specific antibodies) for the study of the O-GlcNAc modification, some of which may have diagnostic value. The lab recently described a major new form of protein glycosylation (termed O-GlcNAc) that is found in all multicellular organisms, including plants, animals and viruses that infect them. A major theme of the lab???s research is to elucidate the biosynthesis, removal, attachments sites, and functions of this novel post-translational modification. In 2010 he was named an honorary professor of Shanghai Medical College. From 2009-2011 he was the president of the International Glycoconjugate Organization. He has received many honors and is a member of many scientific organizations. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Glycobiology.


Dr. Carolyn R. Bertozzi
University of California, Berkeley

Carolyn Bertozzi is the T.Z. and Irmgard Chu Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Senior Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She completed her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Harvard University in 1988 and her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1993. After completing postdoctoral work at UCSF in the field of cellular immunology, she joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1996. Prof. Bertozzi's research interests span the disciplines of chemistry and biology with an emphasis on studies of cell surface glycosylation pertinent to disease states. Her lab focuses on profiling changes in cell surface glycosylation associated with cancer, inflammation and bacterial infection, and exploiting this information for development of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. In addition, her group develops nanoscience-based technologies for probing cell function and methods for protein engineering. Professor Bertozzi has been recognized with many honors and awards for both her research and teaching accomplishments. She is member of the National Academy of Sciences (2005), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Some awards of note include the Lemelson-MIT award for inventors, Whistler Award, Ernst Schering Prize, MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry, Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award, and Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award of the Protein Society. Her efforts in undergraduate education have earned her the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award and the Donald Sterling Noyce Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


Dr. Alan Darvill
University of Georgia

Alan Darvill received his B.S. in plant biology in 1973 from Wolverhampton Polytechnic (England) and his Ph.D. in plant physiology in 1976 from the University College of Wales,Aberystwyth. He founded the CCRC with Dr. Peter Albersheim in September 1985. Dr. Darvill is the Director of the CCRC,Director of the Department of Energy (DOE)-funded Center for Plant and Microbial Complex Carbohydrates,and is University of Georgia lead in the DOE-funded BioEnergy Science Center. In 2003,Dr. Darvill was appointed Regents Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Senior Faculty Fellow. He was elected chairman for 1994-95 of the Carbohydrate Division of the American Chemical Society,and was appointed a member in 1993 and chairman in 1996 of the Martin Gibbs Medal Committee of the American Society of Plant Physiologists. He served on the editorial boards of Glycobiology and of the Plant Journal for Cell and Molecular BiologyDr. Darvill received the Outstanding Faculty Award of the UGA Chapter of the Golden Key National Honor Society in 1995,and,in 2010,was named Fellow of the American Associate for the Advancement of Science.


Dr. James Paulson
The Scripps Research Institute

James Paulson is a professor in the department of chemical physiology and department of molecular biology at the Scripps Research Institute. He is also a principal investigator for the Consortium of Functional Glycomics, on the scientific advisory board for the BU Mass Spectrometry Resource, a co-chair of the Human Glycomics/Proteomics Initiative, and a scientific advisor to Nexbio, Institute for Biological Sciences-IBS, Neose Technologies Inc., and the Alberta Ingenuity Center for Carbohydrate Science-AICCS. He is also an honorary member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, on the editorial board of Glycobiology, and a member of the American Chemical Society, American Society of Biological Chemists, and the Society for Complex Carbohydrates. Before joining Scripps, Dr. Paulson worked at the Cytel Corporation (1990-1999) and the UCLA School of Medicine (1978-1990). Dr. Paulson received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Illinois-Champagne-Urbana in 1974. He holds numerous patents and has published over 230 scientific papers. His current research focuses on the roles of glycan binding proteins that mediate cellular processes central to immune regulation and human disease. He works at the interface of biology and chemistry to understand how the interaction of glycan binding proteins with their ligands mediates cell-cell interactions, endocytosis and cell signaling. Our multi-disciplinary approach is complemented by a diverse group of chemists, biochemists, cell biologists, and molecular biologists.


Dr. Chi-Huey Wong
Academia Sinica (Taiwan)

Chi-Huey Wong received his PhD in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Wong also completed a post doctoral fellowship at Harvard University in 1983. Currently, Dr. Wong is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemical Sciences at the National Taiwan University, the President of Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan, a professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute, and a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at National Tsing-Hua University in Taiwan. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, and became a Fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2005. He is also a member of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World. He served on the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology of the NRC, and has held advisory positions in industry. He has also received more than 20 awards for his scientific work. His main research interest is in chemical biology and synthetic chemistry, including synthesis of complex carbohydrates, glycoproteins and small-molecule probes for the study of post-translational glycosylation and carbohydrate-mediated biological recognition.


Dr. Laura L. Kiessling
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Laura L. Kiessling PhD was born in Milwaukee, WI. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from MIT and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale University. After carrying out postdoctoral training in Chemical Biology at the California Institute of Technology, she returned to Wisconsin in 1991 to begin her independent career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She currently is a Hilldale Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Laurens Anderson Professor of Biochemistry. She also serves as the Director of the Keck Center for Chemical Genomics and the Program Director for the Chemistry-Biology Interface Pre-doctoral Training Program. Her interdisciplinary research interests focus on elucidating and exploiting the biological roles of oligosaccharides and oligosaccharide conjugates in biological systems. Some examples of her contributions include a new approach to inhibiting cell wall biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis to devising sugar-binding surfaces to grow human embryonic stem cells. Kiessling serves on several editorial boards and is Editor-In-Chief of ACS Chemical Biology. She is a founder of Quintessence Biosciences, Inc in Madison, WI. Her previous honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.


Dr. Ajit P. Varki, M.D.
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

Ajit Varki received basic training in physiology, medicine, biology, and biochemistry at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, The University of Nebraska, and Washington University in St. Louis. He also has formal training and certification in internal medicine, hematology, and oncology. He is currently distinguished professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine, and co-director of the Glycobiology Research and Training Center at UCSD. Dr. Varki is executive editor of the textbook Essentials of Glycobiology. He is also a co-director for the UCSD Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny and is an affiliate faculty member of the Living Links Center of Emory University. Dr. Varki is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine (2006), the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians. Dr. Varki is recipient of a MERIT award from the NIH, an American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, the Karl Meyer Award of the Society for Glycobiology and the International Glycoconjugate Organization (IGO) Award (2007). He serves on the National Chimpanzee Observatory Working Group; the scientific advisory board of the Huntsman Cancer Institute (University of Utah), and the editorial board of Glycobiology. He is a specialist advisor to the Human Gene Nomenclature Committee. His research interests are currently focused on a family of sugar molecules called the sialic acids, and their roles in biology, evolution and disease. Currently active projects are relevant to the roles of sialic acids in viral and bacterial infectivity, the regulation of the immune response, the initiation and progression of tumors and unique aspects of human evolution. The lab is particularly intrigued to find multiple differences in sialic acid biology between humans and our closest evolutionary cousins, the great apes. These differences are a signature of the multiple cellular and molecular events that occurred during the last few million years of human evolution, and are relevant to understanding several aspects of the current human condition, both in health and disease.


Dr. Brad Bendiak
University of Colorado at Denver

Brad Bendiak is an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Bendiak teaches cell and developmental biology. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1983. Dr. Bendiak???s laboratory focuses on an understanding of the enzymes that synthesize cell surface carbohydrates, the glycosyltransferases. In addition, characterization of the carbohydrate structures themselves and development of new methods for elucidation of these molecules is ongoing. This includes new methods in higher-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and fundamental studies in fragmentation of carbohydrate molecules by mass spectrometry, with the overall goal being to assign the detailed structures of these complex molecules unambiguously. His laboratory is also interested in a series of glycosyltransferases involved in synthesis and branching of novel core structures of glycoprotein oligosaccharides, and in coming to understand the control of expression and role of these enzymes in different tissues. For structural elucidation of glycoprotein oligosaccharides, the lab employs high-field NMR, mass spectrometry, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, in addition to specific methods of chemical degradation which are topics of research in the lab. Recent work has dealt with developments of gas-phase methods for separation and differentiation of oligosaccharide isomers.