Kevan Shokat ’86 Finding a Pathway for KRas Inhibition

Wikipedia: The protein product of the KRas gene performs an essential function in normal tissue signaling: it acts as a molecular on/off switch. In the ‘on’ position, KRas recruits and activates proteins necessary for the propagation of growth factor and other signaling pathways, however, the mutation of a KRas gene also happens to be an essential step in the development of many cancers.

C&EN (6 June 2016, cover story): “KRas, part of a family of proteins commonly mutated in cancer, is one of the most desirable drug targets in the pharmaceutical industry. It is also one of the most maddeningly difficult targets; after a long period of failures, many scientists simply stopped trying to develop drugs that block KRas.”

The C&EN cover story also describes how the first real break in the KRas story came in December 2011, when Dr. Ulf Peters, a postdoc in the Shokat lab at UC San Francisco, was able to determine an x-ray structure of a KRas-small molecule complex. Peters sent the coordinates to Shokat by email, but what he didn’t know was this: Shokat had been caught in an early winter Lake Tahoe snowstorm, and was stuck in his car at the bottom of a slick, steep hill. Continue reading

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New Chem Lab Opens

The Arthur F. Scott Chemistry Building is going strong in its third decade. Aside from small and occasional lab/office retrofits, no major changes ever seemed to be in order. Then, over winter break, a major ground-floor renovation project gave Room 106 an entirely new look and purpose. Once imagined as a laboratory space for retired faculty, and actually used as a home for the EHS office, Room 106 and some adjoining rooms were converted into the Scott building’s newest teaching lab.

Chemistry 394 , Spring 2016 in Rm. 106 (biochemistry lab)

Chemistry 394 (biochemistry lab), Spring 2016 in Rm. 106

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Seen at the Reunion

Reunions 2016 (and maybe thoughts of a rainy Rose Parade) have brought lots of alumni back to campus. You can see who’s coming to the Reunion here. Among the visiting chemists …

Harry Traulsen ’11 and Grant Trenary ’11 made their way up the Woodstock hill to relive the joys of Otto’s fine food. Harry is working for Google in New York, and Grant is a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in NW Portland … Joe Kliegman ’06 stopped by to say he’s taking his Ph.D. to a new coast this summer (look for him to pop up in D.C. around August) … I bumped into Claire Remington ’11 near the Bookstore and learned that she’s working with another Reedie, Sasha Kramer ’99, on SOIL in Haiti … Paul Whittredge ’12 took a short break from his job at Novartis to say hi and discuss life as a married man … Arlene Blum ’66 stopped by the Chemistry building on Saturday and told us about her hiking plans for Alaska later this month (“I’m going to visit the Brooks Range with my bad knees. Then I’m giving a lecture at the regional ACS meeting, ‘Chemistry Under the Midnight Sun.’“). She also said that the Green Science Policy Institute that she directs in Berkeley is on a solid financial footing and she’s looking for expert help. If you’re a mid-career (or even an early career) chemist with an interest in the crossroads of environmental science and policy, give Arlene a call.

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Grants Support New Faculty Research

All three of the new chemistry faculty who have been hired in recent years have successfully garnered financial support from outside the college for their research projects. If you missed it, here’s a rundown:

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Another happy law school graduate: Prof. Juliane Fry

The fact that the hallway outside Julie Fry‘s office is festooned with research posters might lead one to think of her as a one-dimensional research scientist, but that has never been the case.  Continue reading

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Becky Phillips ’10 Receives Teaching Award

Becky is currently pursuing her graduate studies in IPiB (integrated program in biochemistry) in Ivan Rayment’s laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A few days ago she learned that she had received the program’s 2016 Denton Award for Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. The award is given each year to a student who has “consistently demonstrated commitment to quality, innovative classroom teaching and mentoring in a laboratory setting,” and is made possible through the generosity of Arnold E. and Catherine M. Denton.

Congratulations, Becky!

Want to learn more about Becky’s life in graduate school? Go here.

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Periodic Table 103, Bulletin Board 0

Late one night several seniors entered the student lounge intent upon some long-unfinished business: to replace the seldom used bulletin boards with a hand-painted Periodic Table of the Elements.

L to R: Erin McConnell '16, Sam Underwood '16, Catherine Neshyba '16, Jazz Weisman '16, Jonathan Perkins '16, Makoto Kelp '16, Nick Till '16

L to R: Erin McConnell ’16, Sam Underwood ’16, Catherine Neshyba ’16, Jazz Weisman ’16, Jonathan Perkins ’16, Makoto Kelp ’16, Nick Till ’16

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Support Our Seniors

An anonymous member of the Class of 2016 taking a much needed break. (photo by A. Glasfeld)

An anonymous member of the Class of 2016 takes a much needed break. (photo by A. Glasfeld)

It’s the last week of classes for Spring 2016. Senior theses are due on Friday after which the campus will celebrate, as it does every year, with a raucous Thesis Parade, and a not-to-be-missed Renn Fayre.

But… until then, seniors crouch over their laptops chasing down spectra, gel photos, and literature citations, writing figure captions, and make the final edits that will earn them that most coveted of Reed College prizes: the laurels of a completed thesis.

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Rockin’ the House with Virginia Hancock ’62

54 years ago, in the spring of 1962, a Reed chemistry student named Virginia Oglesby submitted a senior thesis titled, “The Synthesis of Heterocyclic Imidochlorides.” This week marks the end of yet another thesis season, but for Virginia (now Hancock), it celebrated the end of a completely different kind of project: three decades spent leading the choral program at Reed as a Professor of Music. Last night in Kaul Auditorium she conducted her last spring choral concert as a Professor of Music. From now on, each time she lifts a baton it will be as Reed College Professor Emerita. Thank you, Ginny, for all these years of beautiful, thoughtful music.

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D is for Dog

The number of pooches in the chemistry building is booming once again which raises a perennial pet question: do chemists show their affection differently than other dog owners?

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