Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry

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Professor Yi Tang has been awarded the 2014 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry by the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry.

The ACS Division of Biological Chemistry has awarded the 2014 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry to Professor Yi Tang, for outstanding research in biological chemistry of unusual merit and independence of thought and originality.  The award established in 1934, is given to researchers early in their careers.  Notable past winners of the award include Nobel laureates George Wald, Paul Berg, Roger Kornberg, and James Watson.

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Yi Tang (Credit: UCLA Engineering)

About the Yi Tang Lab:

Professor Tang’s research lab is interested in natural product biosynthesis and biocatalysis.  In the natural product area, they are interested in elucidating biosynthetic pathways of polyketides, nonribosomal peptides and related compounds.  Their goal is to understand the biochemical and structural basis of different enzymes encoded in these pathways.  In particular, they are studying the biosynthesis of aromatic polyketides from Streptomyces and iteratively biosynthesized compounds from filamentous fungi.  By accumulating biosynthetic knowledge and enzymatic tools, they aim towards the engineered biosynthesis of unnatural natural products through combinatorial biosynthesis. 

In the biocatalysis area, they build upon their knowledge from the fundamental studies and aim to discover and engineer enzymes that can be used in the synthesis and semisynthesis of pharmaceutical compounds.  They have demonstrated the potential of this approach in establishing a biocatalytic approach for making the blockbuster drug simvastatin. 

The Tang lab has also recently become interested in research at the interface of nanotechnology, biomaterials and drug delivery.  In particular, they are conducting research towards the efficient delivery of various biological molecules to cells and model animals for applications in cancer therapy, imaging, vaccination and reprogramming.  These nascent efforts are performed in collaboration with various labs.