Fall 2023 Distinguished Lecture by Professor David Christianson

Posted on

DLS Fall 2023

Professor David Christianson (University of Pennsylvania), a distinguished figure in the field of biological chemistry, visited UCLA on November 16, 2023, to give the Fall 2023 Distinguished Lecture.

Select photos from the event can be viewed below and a photo gallery can be viewed here.

Christianson is the Roy and Diana Vagelos Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at the University of Pennsylvania.  Among his numerous accolades, he has been honored with the Repligen Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes and, earlier, the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry from the Biological Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Christianson’s lecture, titled “Directing Biosynthesis with Modular Architecture in Terpene Cyclases,” took place in the department’s new Dongwon Yoo Seminar & Conference Hall in the Mani L. Bhaumik Collaboratory in Young Hall.

After welcoming remarks by Department Chair Professor Alex Spokoyny, Distinguished Lecture Series Chair Professor Ken Houk, introduced Christianson.

“David joined the faculty at Penn in 1988,” Houk said in his introduction. “He rapidly became a leader of biological chemistry, studying the structures and functions of metalloenzymes.  Of note for his lecture today, his research has illuminated molecular mechanisms in the biosynthesis of terpenes, which comprise about 90,000, and probably more, natural products.  We will hear more of his discoveries in the terpene field today.”

“David is not only a great scientist, but a great citizen too, and he just finished a 5-year term as Chemistry Department Chair,” Houk continued. “He is also a wonderful teacher as you will observe today and tomorrow, and he was awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching at Penn.”

Christianson’s lecture, attended by over 150 faculty, students, and researchers, was followed by a question and answer session and the presentation of an engraved crystal plaque. A reception followed in the Collaboratory study hall.

The following day, Christianson delivered a second lecture on “Structural Biology and Chemistry of Histone Deacetylases in Human Disease and Drug Discovery.” In this lecture, he discussed the structural and functional features of this crucial class of enzymes that control gene expression.

Over 150 faculty, students and researchers attended Prof. Christianson’s lecture in the new Dongwon Yoo Seminar & Conference Hall.
Students and faculty participated in the question and answer period following the lecture.
(Left) Prof. Ken Houk presented Prof. Christian with an engraved crystal plaque.  (Right) At the reception following the lecture Prof. Christianson talked with faculty and students.   
At the reception following the lecture (left to right) UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty with Prof. David Christianson – Profs. Yi Tang, Ken Houk, Alex Spokoyny, Ohyun Kwon, and Stuart Conway.
Prof. Christianson posed for a photo with the faculty and students at the reception.

Photos and article by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.