Valentine, Joan S.



Joan Selverstone Valentine was born in Auburn, California in 1945. She grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and received her primary education there at Shady Hill School. Her high school years were spent at Chatham Hall School in Chatham, Virginia. She graduated with degrees in Chemistry from Smith College (B. A.) and Princeton University (Ph.D.), after which she taught for a year at Princeton. In 1972 she moved to Rutgers University, serving as Assistant, and then Associate, Professor of Chemistry. In 1980 she came to UCLA and joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, where she was made Professor in 1981. She served as Departmental Vice Chair for Research and Administration from 1991 to 1994, and was Director of the UCLA Chemistry-Biology Interface Predoctoral Training Program from 1993 to 2001. In addition to her research and teaching activities at UCLA, Professor Valentine served as Associate Editor of the journal Inorganic Chemistry from 1989 to 1995 and as Editor-in-Chief of the American Chemical Society journal Accounts of Chemical Research from 1994 to the present. She has also served on a number of Boards and Advisory committees, including National Library of Medicine Literature Selection Technical Review Committee (2000-2004), the Carnegie Foundation Initiative on the Doctorate Chemistry Advisory Committee (2002-present), the Board of Trustees of the Gordon Research Conferences (2002-2007), the Visiting Committee for the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology (2002-present) and the Board of Directors of the Research Corporation (1986-2004).

Research Interests

Transition Metals, Metalloenzymes, and Oxidative Stress

1. Copper-Zinc Superoxide Dismutase and ALSThe primary objective of our research in this area is to discover how mutations in copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS) and to explore the possibility that CuZnSOD is also linked to sporadic ALS (sALS). Our work has led us to conclude that aggregation of SOD1 protein is correlated with disease and could possibly be causative. In a collaborative project with two other laboratories, we are (1) analyzing the roles aggregates, fibrils, and other abnormal multimers of SOD1 in disease, and (2) exploring the roles of metal ions and metal metabolism in this disease.

Joan Valentine Metabolism Research

Figure 1:  The picture above shows the dimeric SOD1 protein with sites of different ALS mutations indicated in yellow.

2. Redox Balance, Oxidative Stress, and Metal Ion Metabolism in Eukaryotic CellsIn this project, we seek to understand the molecular mechanisms of antioxidant protection of eukaryotic cells. In particular, we are exploring the relationships between antioxidant enzymes, redox balance, and metal metabolism, using the tools of inorganic chemistry, spectroscopy, molecular biology, and yeast genetics. A recent focus has been on the chemistry that enables manganous ion to functionally substitute for superoxide dismutase in many organisms.

Honors & Awards

  • NIH Research Career Development Award
  • UCLA Alpha Chi Sigma Faculty Research
  • John C. Bailar, Jr. Medal
  • McCoy Award
  • Smith Medal
  • Accounts of Chemical Research Editor-in-Chief
  • Cal. Tech. Ernest K. Swift Lecturer
  • University of Maryland Rollinson Lecturer
  • National Academy of Sciences Member
  • AAAS Fellow

Representative Publications