Laura L. Kiessling

Photo of Laura L. Kiessling

Department of Chemistry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, 18-498
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Emeritus Professor 2017-present
Professor 1991-2017
Steenbock Professor of Chemistry
Laurens Anderson Professor of Biochemistry
B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D., Yale University
Post-doctoral California Institute of Technology

Biomolecular recognition processes; the chemistry and biology of protein-saccharide interactions

All cells on Earth possess a carbohydrate coat. Emerging evidence indicates that this coat serves as a critical conduit of information, but little is known at the molecular level. Elucidating how carbohydrates are assembled, how they are recognized, and how they function are issues at the scientific frontier. Using ideas and approaches that range from synthetic chemistry to cell biology, our research group is addressing the critical issues at this frontier. A summary of the key elements of our research program along with relevant references can be found in the links below.

Chemistry to Explore and Exploit Multivalent Protein-Carbohydrate Interactions

Multivalent Carbohydrates as New and Powerful Probes of Signal Transduction

Carbohydrate Polymer Biosynthesis: A New Target for Anti-Tuberculosis Agents

Carbohydrate Polymer Biosynthesis: Controlling Length

Carbohydrate Polymers and Human Embryonic Stem Cell Pluripotency

About Laura L. Kiessling

Laura received her undergraduate training in Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There she conducted undergraduate research in organic synthesis with Professor Bill Roush. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale University where she worked with Stuart L. Schreiber on the synthesis of anti-tumor natural products. Her postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology in the research group of Peter B. Dervan led her to explore the recognition of duplex DNA through triple helix formation. She began her independent career in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991.

She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Academy of Microbiology, and National Academy of Sciences. Laura's honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an ACS Frances P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal, a Harrison-Howe Award, an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, the Hudson Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry, the Alfred Bader Award in Bioorganic or Bioinorganic Chemistry, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She is also the founding editor-in-chief of ACS Chemical Biology.

Her interdisciplinary research interests focus on elucidating and exploiting the mechanisms of cell surface recognition processes, especially those involving protein-glycan interactions. Another major research interest is multivalency and its role in recognition, signal transduction, and direction of cell fate.