Nobel Laureate Paul Boyer & UCLA postdoctoral scholars honored at Postdoctoral Awards Ceremony

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The event celebrated the 2015 Postdoctoral Awardees and paid tribute to Paul & Lyda Boyer for their generous support of postdoctoral fellows. 

Held on Oct. 9th at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) the awards ceremony was co-sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Molecular Biology Institute (MBI).

This year, a total of 19 postdoctoral scholars were nominated;  the six winners included Crysten Blaby from the Merchant lab, Maher El-Kady from the Kaner lab, Luz Orozco from the Pellegrini lab, Vincent Pasque from the Plath lab, Jose Rodriguez from the Eisenberg lab, and Silvia Sense from the Torres lab.  

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Front Row (left to right): Crysten Blaby (formerly Merchant Lab), Luz Orozco (Pellegrini lab), Sylvia Sense (Torres Lab), Paul Boyer, Lyda Boyer, Jose Rodriguez (Eisenberg lab), Maher El-Kady (Kaner lab). Back Row (left to right): Luisa Iruela-Arispe, Jake Lusis, Jennifer Allen (Amgen), Phyllis Parvin, Jorge Torres, David Eisenberg, Ric Kaner, Miguel Garcia-Garibay, Dean Victoria Sork. Not Pictured: Vincent Pasque (formerly Plath Lab)

In his presentation on Prof. Boyer’s impressive career in science, Prof. Steven Clarke also described Boyer’s role as the founding director of the Molecular Biology Institute and how he was able to get the Molecular Biology Building (now Boyer Hall) built. Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair Miguel Garcia-Garibay, Dean Victoria Sork, and MBI Director Luisa Iruela-Arispe, added their comments on the history and importance of the award ceremony and on Paul Boyer’s contribution to the world of science and to the UCLA community. Several of the Boyers’ family and friends, including children and grandchildren, attended the event.

Friends and family with Lyda and Paul Boyer (center) during the 2015 Postdoctoral Awards ceremony at CNSI.

Mrs. Phyllis Parvin, the philanthropist whose efforts were essential for the construction of Boyer HalI and who has been a strong supporter of the MBI and the postdoctoral awards program, was at the ceremony to present the Parvin Award. Dr. Jennifer Allen, Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Amgen, was at hand to represent the company that has been a long-time supporter of the postdoctoral awards program and to present the Amgen Award.

Lyda and Paul Boyer greet the press on the day it was announced he had won the Nobel Prize in 1997.  
Photo courtesy of Steven Clarke, UCLA.

In 1999, Prof. Boyer donated a portion of his Nobel Prize to recognize outstanding research contributions from postdoctoral fellows.  Generous donations were also received from Dr. James and Joan Peter, Mrs. Phyllis Parvin and the Parvin Foundation, and an educational donation from Amgen, Inc. Since that time, nearly 100 postdoctoral scholars have received awards. Several previous postdoctoral award recipients returned to UCLA to attend the event.

About Professor Emeritus Paul D. Boyer

Prof. Boyer was born in 1918. He received a B.S. in chemistry from Brigham Young University in 1939 and Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1943. He did postdoctoral research at Stanford University and he began his independent research career at the University of Minnesota where he introduced kinetic, isotopic, and chemical methods for investigating enzyme mechanisms. In 1955, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and worked with Professor Hugo Theorell on the mechanism of alcohol dehydrogenase. In 1956, he accepted a Hill Foundation Professorship and moved to the medical campus of the University of Minnesota. In 1959-1960, he served as Chairman of the Biochemistry Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and in 1969-1970 as President of the American Society of Biological Chemists.

Prof. Boyer joined the faculty of the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1963. In 1965, he became the Founding Director of the Molecular Biology Institute and spearheaded the construction of the building and the organization of an interdepartmental Ph.D. program. 

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1997 was divided, one half jointly to Prof. Boyer and John E. Walker “for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)” and the other half to Jens C. Skou “for the first discovery of an ion-transporting enzyme, Na+, K+ -ATPase”.

Prof. Boyer and Lyda have three children: Gail B. Hayes, Alexandra Boyer and Dr. Douglas Boyer; and eight grandchildren: Imran Clark, Mashuri Clark, Rashid Clark, Djahari Clark, Faisal Clark, Lisa A. Hayes, Leah Boyer and Josh Boyer.

An online photo gallery of the event will be available soon.

Photos by Reed Hutchinson