Three School of Pharmacy Research Scientists Receive Top Honors

Three UCSF pharmaceutical chemistry professors have recently been selected to receive high national recognition for their pioneering research.
James Wells
James Wells, PhD, the Harry Wm. Hind and Diana V. Hind Distinguished Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, has been named recipient of the David Perlman Award, given by the Division of Biochemical Technology of the American Chemical Society. The award, sponsored by Genzyme Corp., recognizes many of Wells' contributions, including advancing protein engineering to develop techniques for the rational design of enzymes, cell-surface receptors and drugs, and specifically in the area of small molecule drug discovery. Wells will deliver the David Perlman Award Lecture at the organization's annual meeting, where he will discuss the field he has pioneered: site-directed chemical biology. Wells is also a professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology in the School of Medicine and director of the Small Molecule Discovery Center at the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, or QB3, on UCSF's Mission Bay campus.
Paul R. Ortiz de Montellano
Paul R. Ortiz de Montellano, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, will receive the Volwiler Research Achievement Award this month, presented by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) at the group's annual meeting in San Diego. The award recognizes Ortiz de Montellano's extensive research and strong reputation in drug metabolism and his expertise in biological organic and inorganic chemistry. It is sponsored by Abbott Laboratories. Ortiz de Montellano has contributed extensively to the understanding of drug metabolism by cytochrome P450 and related enzymes, and the understanding of toxicities that sometimes arise in drug metabolism. The cytochrome P450 enzymes are critical for the metabolism of most drugs and are involved in many drug-drug interactions. He and his colleagues are also working on designing new drugs to treat tuberculosis, which is reemerging as a difficult disease to control due to the development of widespread drug resistance.
Christopher Voigt
Christopher Voigt, PhD, assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, has been named one of 15 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences for 2006. The honor and research support go to the nation's most promising early-to-midcareer biomedical researchers. Voigt, a young pioneer in the emerging field of synthetic biology, seeks to develop a basis by which cells can be programmed to perform complex tasks for pharmaceutical and industrial applications. His laboratory is engineering new sensors in bacteria to extend their capabilities. Genetic circuits, analogous to electronic circuits, are built to integrate the signals from various sensors. The output of the gene circuits is used to control cellular processes and perform other tasks, such as building materials or delivering therapeutics. His lab also develops theoretical tools from statistical mechanics and related fields to understand how to combine genetic devices and predict their collective behavior.