Dr. JoAnne Stubbe, Ph.D., Chemist

2009 recipient of the National Medal of Science
Novartis professor of Chemistry, and Professor of Biology,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Stubbe was born in Urbana Illinois and shortly thereafter moved to Massachusetts where she attended Classical High school and became excited by a Chemistry course by her high school teacher Mr. McQue. She was fortunate to carry out research at the Worcester Biological Foundation and Clark University while she was still in high school. She did her undergraduate studies in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with honors in 1968. She did her graduate studies in Organic Chemistry at UC Berkeley where she received her Ph. D. in 1971, and was a Postdoctoral researcher at UCLA. Dr. Stubbe moved to Williams College in 1972 as an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department. After a leave of absence from Williams to conduct research at Brandeis University, she joined the faculty in the Pharmacology Department at Yale University. In 1980 she moved to the Biochemistry Department at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she received tenure in 1985. In 1987 Dr. Stubbe became the first female tenure professor in the MIT Chemistry Department and is currently the Novartis Professor of Chemistry and Biology. She received the National Medal of Science in 2009 for her ground-breaking research in biochemistry and enzyme mechanism.

JoAnne Stubbe's research has helped scientists understand the ways in which enzymes catalyze chemical reactions with rate accelerations of 1017 (faster than a speeding bullet) over non-enzyme catalyzed reactions. Her major research efforts have focused on radical based reactions using the mechanism of nucleotide reductases, the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of the building blocks required for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) biosynthesis, the molecule of heredity, as a paradigm. Her work has led to the design and synthesis of nucleotide analogs--structural derivatives of nucleotides--that are used clinically in the treatment of a number of cancers.

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