Department of Defense
United States Army Medical Research and Development Command
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

Released: October 7, 2022

Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi Awarded 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Carolyn Bertozzi, Ph.D., a multiple awardee of the CDMRP, was one of three scientists to receive the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work in click chemistry.

FORT DETRICK, Md. – On October 5, 2022, Carolyn Bertozzi, Ph.D., a multiple awardee of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), was one of three scientists to receive a 2022 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work in click chemistry, the process of quickly joining together molecular building blocks to form complex molecules.

As the inventor of “bioorthogonal chemistry,” Dr. Bertozzi and her team at Stanford University advanced click chemistry by developing click reactions that work in living organisms. They studied the glycobiology related to underlying diseases, such as cancer, inflammation, tuberculosis, and COVID-19.

“The USAMRDC and CDMRP send our sincere congratulations to Dr. Bertozzi, and we are extremely proud of her selection as a Nobel Prize awardee in chemistry this year,” Brig. Gen. Anthony McQueen, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and Fort Detrick, said. “Dr. Bertozzi’s work in breast cancer and prostate cancer research have helped to advance our knowledge in both critical fields. Dr. Bertozzi and her team’s achievements certainly will have a lasting and far-reaching impact for our military and civilian populations.”

In 2003, while a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Bertozzi’s research titled, “Non-invasive Imaging of In Vivo Breast Cancer Tissue Utilizing Metabolically Incorporated Unnatural Sugars,” was funded through a Breast Cancer Research Program Concept (BCRP) Award. Her primary goal as the principal investigator during the one-year study was to examine how the differences in sugars on breast cancer cells might be exploited for early detection using non-surgical methods and, ultimately, for anti-cancer therapy. Dr. Bertozzi’s early preclinical work funded by the BCRP laid the foundation for potential development of targeted imaging agents for non-invasive cancer detection and diagnosis.

In 2009, Dr. Bertozzi again received funding from the CDMRP for a separate study titled, “Glycoproteomic Analysis of Primary Prostate Tissues for Biomarker Discovery,” through the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP). Through the three-year PCRP Idea Development Award, she and her team at UC Berkeley looked to identify biomarkers for improved detection and diagnosis of prostate cancer. Investigating numerous types of proteins in the prostate, Dr. Bertozzi sought to identify changes in these proteins to determine if they could be useful for improving detection, diagnosis, and treatment plans for prostate cancer patients. Results from the PCRP-funded study provided the groundwork for the identification of biomarkers to aid in stage-specific prostate cancer detection and inform treatment decisions.

Additional CDMRP senior leaders and staff members offered their congratulations to Dr. Bertozzi, including U.S. Army Col. Sarah Goldman, CDMRP director.

“Our programs at CDMRP share the goal of advancing research solutions that lead to high-impact breakthroughs,” Col. Goldman said. “We are honored to have supported early research that may have contributed to Dr. Bertozzi’s recognized work.”

Since 1901, Nobel Prizes are presented to recipients in the categories of chemistry, literature, medicine, peace and physics. As of 2021, an aggregate of 609 Nobel Prizes have been awarded, according to the Nobel Foundation. The 2022 award ceremony is expected to be held on Dec.10 in Stockholm, Sweden.

In 2019, two previously funded CDMRP researchers, Dr. Gregg L. Semenza and Dr. William G. Kaelin, Jr., were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Recognized as pioneers in the field of hypoxia, both scientists worked towards seeking treatments for a variety of diseases, including cancer. Dr. Semenza, professor of genetics at Johns Hopkins Medicine, received a fiscal year (FY) 2011 BCRP Impact Award. Dr. Kaelin, professor of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, received an FY03 Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program Idea Award.

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Last updated Friday, October 7, 2022