Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

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Professor Steven Clarke receives Pomona College’s prestigious 2020 Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award for carrying “the spirit of the College” into the world. 

An authority on the biochemistry of the aging process and how protein modification can regulate biological function, Clarke earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and zoology from Pomona College in 1970. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University in 1976 and, after a two-year postdoctoral appointment as a Miller Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the UCLA faculty in 1978.  

The Blaisdell award winners’ tribute videos were shown at Pomona College’s annual alumni reunion (this year via Zoom) on May 1 and 2, 2020. Clarke’s tribute video can be viewed here. In the video, Clarke is interviewed by alumnus Dr. Daniel J. O’Leary, Carneige Professor of Chemistry at Pomona College, who received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from UCLA in 1991 with Professor Frank Anet.

To learn more about Clarke’s research, visit his group’s website

Excerpted from the Pomona College news:

Each year, Pomona College selects alumni to receive the Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni for high achievement in professions or community service. This year, the winners are Steven G. Clarke ’70, Jennifer Doudna ’85, Ann Hardy ’55 and Anjali Kamat ’00. These are alumni who have carried the spirit of the College into the rest of the world and lived up to the famous quotation from James A. Blaisdell which is inscribed into the gates of the College: “They only are loyal to the college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind.”

Steven G. Clarke ’70

Steven Clarke 1UCLA Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Steven G. Clarke is an authority on the biochemistry of the aging process and how protein modification can regulate biological function. 

Raised in Altadena and Pasadena, California, Clarke earned a B.A. in chemistry and zoology from Pomona, with magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Honors. He spent the summer after his junior year as an NIH Undergraduate Fellow in the laboratory of Peter Mitchell in Cornwall, England, and obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard University in 1976, working as an NSF Fellow with Professor Guido Guidotti.

He returned to California to do postdoctoral work as a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, with Professor Daniel Koshland. Clarke joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry and the Molecular Biology Institute at UCLA in 1978.  He directed the UCLA Cellular and Molecular Biology Training Program from 1988 to 2018 and the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute from 2001 to 2011.

His current research interests include understanding the roles of spontaneous protein damage and repair in aging, especially in Alzheimer’s disease.

Clarke has been a visiting scholar in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, in the Department of Pathology at the University of Washington, and in the Department of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University. From 2012 to 2107, he was the Elizabeth R. and Thomas E. Plott Chair in Gerontology at UCLA.

His achievements have been honored by the William C. Rose Award in Biochemistry from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Chemical Society Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry, a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health, a Senior Scholar Award in Aging from the Ellison Medical Foundation, and by selection as the 107th Faculty Research Lecturer at UCLA. He is a recipient of the UCLA Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, including the Eby Award for the Art of Teaching.

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Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,