20th Annual Sigman Symposium of UCLA’s Molecular Biology Institute

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Prof. Squire Booker

Professor Squire Booker, Evan Pugh University Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology at The Pennsylvania State University, presented the 20th annual Sigman Symposium on January 18, 2024.  

The lecture, entitled “A Radical Solution for C(sp3)-C(sp3) Bond Formation during the Biosynthesis of Macrocyclic Membrane Lipids” was followed by a reception in the UCLA California NanoSystems (CNSI) lobby.  

Booker is a mechanistic enzymologist who is recognized for his work on enzymatic reactions that proceed by radical mechanisms. He is particularly known for his work on a superfamily of enzymes called radical S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet), which use AdoMet as a radical generator of 5’-deoxyadenosine.

The Sigman Symposium honors the memory of Professor David S. Sigman, a UCLA professor in the Departments of Biological Chemistry and Chemistry and Biochemistry.  Sigman was a beloved scientist of the UCLA biomedical community whose discovery of artificial nucleases capped his too-early truncated career in the field of what is now known as chemical biology. His service and mentorship to his colleagues and students alike helped bridge the gaps between chemists and biologists on campus. He was an active member of the Molecular Biology Institute who spearheaded efforts to rename the Molecular Biology Building to honor its founding director Professor Paul D. Boyer. Sigman passed away in 2001 at the age of 62.

The symposium was opened by welcoming remarks by Professor Hilary Coller, Director of the Molecular Biology Institute, followed by a remembrance of David Sigman by Professor Steven Clarke.  Booker was introduced by his host Professor Jose Rodriguez.

Prof. Booker opening his lecture presentation.
Prof. Steven Clarke presenting a remembrance of the life of Prof. Sigman.
(Left) Prof. Booker responding to a question from the audience. (Right) Prof. Catherine Clarke opens the question session at the symposium.
(Left) Prof. Booker with Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty Profs. Paul Weiss, Miguel Garcia-Garibay, and Stuart Conway at the reception. (Right) Prof. Steven Clarke, Aleita Tiff (Dr. Booker’s cousin) and Prof. Joseph Loo at the reception of the symposium.
Prof. Booker and his cousin Aleita Tiff pose by the announcement for his lecture in the CNSI lobby at the reception. Aleita is a UCLA alumna with an undergraduate degree in psychology.

Article by Steven Clarke, photos courtesy of Steven Clarke, Joe Loo, and Helen Houldsworth (MBI).