Clarke, Steven G.


Clarke Steven


Steven Clarke has been on the faculty of the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry since 1978. He is currently a Professor of Biochemistry and Director of the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute. He was born in Los Angeles and attended public schools in Altadena and Pasadena, California. He did his undergraduate work at Pomona College in Claremont, majoring in Chemistry and Zoology. During this time, he did undergraduate research at the UCLA Brain Research Institute with Dr. James E. Skinner and Professor Donald Lindsley on neural mechanisms of attention. He was also an NIH fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Mitchell at Glynn Research Laboratories in Bodmin, England studying mitochondrial amino acid transport. He obtained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University working as an NSF Fellow with Professor Guido Guidotti on membrane protein-detergent interactions and the identification of the major rat liver mitochondrial polypeptides as enzymes of the urea cycle. He returned to California to do postdoctoral work as a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, with Professor Dan Koshland, identifying membrane receptors for bacterial chemotaxis. His research at UCLA has focused on roles of novel protein methyltransferases in aging and biological regulation highlighted by discoveries of the protein L-isoaspartyl repair methyltransferase, the isoprenylcysteine protein methyltransferase, and the protein phosphatase 2A methyltransferase. He has been a visiting scholar at Princeton University (1986-87) and at the University of Washington (2004-2005).

Professor Steven Clarke’s 2009 UCLA Faculty Research Lecture on Nov. 3rd
“Aging & Rejuvenation: Chemistry and Biology at Work” UCTV, Webcast, YouTube

Professor Clarke accepts graduate students through the Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology (BMSB) Graduate Program and the UCLA ACCESS Ph.D. Program.

Research Interests

Dr. Clarke has established the paradigm that biological aging is no less than war waged between chemistry and biology. Chemistry represents the spontaneous reactions that degrade biomolecules and biology represents the response of the organism to limit the chemical damage. His laboratory discovered and has characterized a novel pathway that has demonstrated that macromolecular repair is not just for DNA, but for proteins as well! These studies have not only given us a new window to view protein “life” but also suggest that the biological aging process may be closely linked to how well one can keep polypeptides free of spontaneous damage. He has gone on to show that the enzymatic recognition of damage is not limited to DNA and proteins but is a more general response of cells to molecular damage, particularly of crucial metabolites such as cis -aconitate and S -adenosylmethionine. His laboratory has also been in the forefront of identifying new types of methyltransferases that are involved in cellular signaling reactions. His laboratory has discovered enzymes that modify signaling proteins by methylation reactions at C-terminal isoprenylated cysteine residues and leucine residues, as well the first member of the family of protein arginine methyltransferases involved in multiple cellular processes including DNA repair, gene expression, protein translocation, and signaling.



Honors & Awards

  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry
  • American Chemical Society American Chemical Society/Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry
  • Harvard NSF Predoctoral Fellow
  • Miller Research Fellow, UC Berkeley Miller Research Fellow, UC Berkeley
  • NIH MERIT Award
  • Pomona College Wilson Prize in Chemistry
  • Princeton University Visiting Fellow, Princeton University
  • UCLA Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, including the Eby Award for the Art of Teaching UCLA Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, including the Eby Award for the Art of Teaching
  • Joseph F. Foster Memorial Lecturer, Purdue University

Representative Publications

Below is the list of selected and most recent publications.  For the full list, please visit here.

Steven Clarke Research Lab » Watch Steven Clarke on Youtube :: Aging and Rejuvenation: Chemistry and Biochemistry at Work »