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Prominent Biochemist Peng Wu Joins TSRI

LA JOLLA, CA – November 20, 2015 – Peng Wu, formerly of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, is joining The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) as an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Physiology, California campus.

"I am pleased to welcome Peng Wu to TSRI,” said Ben Cravatt, chair of the Department of Chemical Physiology. “Dr. Wu is widely recognized for his innovations in combining chemistry and biochemistry to characterize glycosylation processes in human biology and disease. His expertise and knowledge in applying chemical approaches to important problems in cell biology and medicine are an excellent fit for the Chemical Physiology Department."

For Wu, who received his doctorate from TSRI in 2005 under the guidance of Nobel Laureate K. Barry Sharpless, the appointment is somewhat of a homecoming—but with a vision focused firmly on the future. 

“I am thrilled to come back to Scripps,” said Wu. “The institute has a world-leading program in chemical biology, especially in the field of chemical glycobiology and activity-based protein profiling, which provides me with wonderful opportunities to collaborate with leading experts—Professors Paulson, Wong, Kelly, Cravatt, Yates and many others.”

Wu added his lab has recently been focusing on the study of how glycosylation is regulated in immune cell activation. Understanding the underlying mechanism of this process will help the team design strategies to boost the activity of immune cells in the fight against human diseases such as cancer and viral infection. “By having my laboratory next to the Lerner lab, I will be able to work together with Dr. Lerner in this exciting project on a daily basis,” Wu noted.

Wu’s enthusiasm is mirrored by his former advisor. Sharpless, who is W.M. Keck Professor of Chemistry at TSRI, said, "I'm so excited about having Peng back at Scripps! He's a born collaborator, and just about everyone here can benefit from his unique science."

Wu’s graduate studies at TSRI, in combination with work as a visiting student at University of California, Santa Barbara, with Professor Craig J. Hawker, demonstrated for the first time the powerful use of click chemistry in the preparation of well-defined macromolecules and nanostructured materials.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Professor Carolyn R. Bertozzi at the University of California, Berkeley, Wu developed an “aldehyde-tag” based technology for site-specific labeling of monoclonal antibodies, which served as the foundation for Redwood Biosciences, a biotech company co-founded by Bertozzi.

In 2008, he joined Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he rose through the ranks to become an associate professor of biochemistry and the scientific director of the Chemical Biology Core Facility.

Wu’s awards include a National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award (2007-2012); DuPont Young Professor Award (2011-2014); Visiting Fellowship at Pembrook College, University of Oxford, UK (2013); David Y. Gin Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry (2013); Kavli Fellowship (2014); and a Chinese-American Chemistry and Chemical Biology Professors Association Biomatik Distinguished Faculty Award (2015). The current research in the Wu lab is supported by three R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academy of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.

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Scripps Research Institute Professor and Nobel laureate Barry Sharpless is principal investigator of the new grant. (High-res image)

Biochemist Peng Wu joins The Scripps Research Institute as an associate professor. (High-res image)