With at least 20 articles published in the journal in the last five years, biochemistry professor Hazel Holden was named a selected highly prolific author by the journal Biochemistry. To mark the publication of the one-millionth article in its many journals, the American Chemical Society, which runs Biochemistry, has honored researchers in different categories.
The Holden Laboratory studies the structures and functions of enzymes involved in unusual sugar biosynthesis. These types of sugars are found, for example, on antibiotics, antifungals, and antitumor agents.
Oftentimes they are critical for the efficacies of the compounds to which they are attached. By understanding these sugar-modifying enzymes in molecular detail, the Holden group has already demonstrated that it is possible to produce new carbohydrates not found in nature, and these have important ramifications for the production of novel therapeutic agents.
In addition to being found on natural products, unusual sugars have been observed on the lipopolysaccharide, which is part of the outer membrane, of Gram-negative bacteria. It has become increasingly apparent that many of these unique sugars play a role in bacterial virulence. As a consequence, some of the enzymes being studied in the Holden Lab may be targets for structure-based drug design.
“I have published repeatedly in Biochemistry because the reviewing process has always been timely and fair, and the reviews have been thoughtful and helpful to my own research,” Holden says. “The award was a big surprise I didn’t see coming.”
She adds that throughout the years, the journal has been supportive of her efforts. For example, on their cover they featured a picture of crystals grown by a student participating in Project CRYSTAL, a middle school outreach program established by her laboratory in 2009.
“If my name is on the list, it is a tribute to Dr. James Thoden, rather than to me,” Holden says. “Jim is an exceptionally talented senior scientist in my laboratory, and it is his dedication and scientific skills that have led to most of the publications reported in Biochemistry over the last five years.”