Sickle-cell disease (SCD) is a group of blood disorders that includes sickle-cell anemia (SCA). The disease, which affects millions around the globe and can be fatal, is noteworthy in the history of biochemistry and genetics because in 1949 Caltech chemist (and Portland, Oregon native) Linus Pauling and co-workers determined that SCA was a “molecular disease,” it was due to a change in the molecular structure of a single hemoglobin molecule: disease-free individuals carry hemoglobin A, while those with SCA carried a different form called hemoglobin S. found in red blood cells. Work by other scientists eventually established that the disease followed a distinctive genetic pattern in that it was mainly inherited from one’s parents, and that the difference between hemoglobins A and S could be traced to a single nucleotide (“point mutation”) difference in DNA sequences.
Mark leads a study that has demonstrated that the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology can “fix” the DNA in damaged human cells, and that the corrected cells will grow in mice. Mark tells the Times reporter, “What we have right now, if we can scale it up and make sure it works well, is already enough to form the basis of a clinical trial to cure sickle cell disease with gene editing.”
Posted inAlumni|Comments Off on Mark DeWitt ’06 Leads Sickle Cell Gene Editing Team
Every May, just two or three days before graduation, the Dean of the Faculty announces the most recent group of Reed seniors to be elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society. Here are the PBK “chemists” from three most-recent classes. Congratulations!
One of the great joys of my job is that I receive emails from alums and colleagues telling me about lovely changes in their lives: new jobs, marriages, babies, fellowships, and so on. Really delightful stuff. And, of course, because I also write for this blog, I hope that they will let me share their information here. Nearly everyone says ‘yes’ to my requests (thank you!) and my next step is usually to move their email into a special folder where it will patiently wait for a gap in my busy schedule. Ideally, this gap appears in the next few days, or perhaps a few weeks, and the post appears. Ideally. That is The Plan.
I decided earlier today to take a look at the folder to see what might have escaped my notice in the end-of-semester rush. Oh, woe! Buried at the “bottom” of this folder were emails that date back, well, if not to an ancient, lost civilization, at least to a time when iPads looked pretty new and cool. =(
Here, along with my apologies for overlooking your emails, are these antique notices of Reed Chemistry News for your enjoyment (from oldest to newest). I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did, then and now.
Maybe the place to begin a dip into What Is a Reedie?, the Sept. 2016 issue of the Reed magazine, is by asking, “what is summer?”
The time of year when it rains on Portland’s annual Grand Floral Parade.
A time when the highly improbable – two consecutive 100 degree days in Portland – becomes, if not exactly likely, at least a distinct possibility.
The season when Reed faculty catch up on their reading.
All of the above.
If you answered #4, you are right! Parade day began in a distinctly soggy way, and even though the Parade was just two weeks ago, the skies have turned the corner and 100F has been bouncing in and out of the Sat/Sun forecasts for today and tomorrow. And, of course, this is the season when I kick back with my pile of Reed magazines, beginning with the Sept. 2016 issue, What Is a Reedie?
The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently announced its Heroes of Chemistry for 2017 and the list includes Janet’s team at Genentech. The Genentech heroes were recognized for the discovery and development of ERIVEDGE® (vismodegib), the first medicine to be approved for the treatment of metastatic or locally advanced basal cell carcinoma.
Over a dozen Reed chemistry graduates of all vintages returned to campus last week for 2017 Reunions. Prof. Arthur Glasfeld and Alan Shusterman (that’s me) were on hand to greet them when they stopped by the Chemistry building, and we joined several for the reunion march and dinner on Saturday night. It was a joy to get back together with old friends, meet their families, and even get acquainted with the friends they used to hang out with. We love you all!
The recipient of the 2017 Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology is University of Oregon chemist, Prof. Geraldine (Geri) Richmond. Prof. Richmond is one of those very special scientists who can work on a broad scale, achieving international recognition as an advocate for women in science (she is the founder and director of COACh, a grassroots organization that has been assisting in the advancement of thousands of women scientists around the globe since 1997) and as a global leader in surface science, in particular, environmentally and technologically important processes that occur at water, semiconductor, and mineral surfaces. (UPDATE: The American Chemical Society has just announced that it is awarding its top honor, the 2018 Priestley Medal, to Prof. Richmond for “her pioneering contributions to our understanding of the molecular properties of liquid surfaces and her extraordinary service to chemistry on a global level.” C&EN, 7 Jun 2017)
What is a Reed thesis? Search online and you might come across:
The Reed Thesis
During your final year, you will plunge headlong into an intellectual adventure—the senior thesis. Undertaken with support from a faculty adviser, the senior thesis is your opportunity to explore a problem or answer a question that holds particular significance for you. (read more)
For some seniors, this adventure may be more than ‘intellectual,’ it may also involve coming face-to-face with a life-threatening disease that attacks millions of humans every year: malaria.
This year one member of the Class of 2017, Rose Gonoud, took advantage of a special opportunity to synthesize anti-malarial drugs in the experimental chemotherapy laboratory of Prof. Michael Riscoe at OHSU. You can read more about Rose and how this came to pass at “Chem major battles malaria parasite“ (Sallyportal blog, 24 Apr 2017).
Q: What follows 9 months of Portland winter?
A: The 2017 Reed graduation ceremony, of course.
Reed’s ceremony took place during a one-day break from the rain and clouds last Monday, May 15. Our graduating class contained very flavor of chemistry: analytical, environmental, biochemical, inorganic, organic, physical, and even theoretical/computational. Congratulations to the Class of 2017!
You can watch the ceremony here. Or you can just admire the coolest-looking dog to ever graduate from the College, and its owner, freshly minted environmental chemist, Annelise Hill ’17.
Annelise Hill ’17 (environmental studies-chemistry) and shaggy companion receive diploma from Pres. John Kroger
The Reed Magazine always carries a broad spectrum of articles, and Within Reach, the June 2016 issue, is no exception. There are articles on a diverse set of alumni pursuits (can you say, “emergency planning – gunpowder – prosthetic limbs” three times fast?), class notes, Reediana, and updates on Reed’s academic programs. A particularly exciting development in the latter category is a new academic program in “computer science” that will be formally launched in September (see Reed to Launch Computer Science Program, p.7 and Eliot Circular). The new program features courses in “computer science, computational biology, digital art, and internet culture,” and I confess that I would like nothing better than to see a regular offering in computational chemistry added to this mix. [Alumni, you can help make this happen. Just ask me how. – Alan]