Lai-Xi Wang, who will join the faculty at the University of Maryland as a professor of chemistry and biochemistry starting January 2015, has been named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Wang was honored for "distinguished contributions to the field of carbohydrate chemistry and glycobiology, particularly for development of new chemoenzymatic methods for glycosylation engineering of therapeutic proteins."
Wang, a leading carbohydrate chemist with expertise in glycoscience, enzymology and immunology, conducts research in the field of glycocience, a field that broadly explores the structure and function of carbohydrates. He works to decipher the biological functions of glycoproteins and to design an effective carbohydrate-based HIV vaccine. Wang developed an efficient chemoenzymatic method to produce structurally well-defined, homogeneous glycoproteins highly demanded for functional glycomics studies. His method is also valuable for better understanding and improving the therapeutic efficacy of monoclonal antibodies and other therapeutic glycoproteins.
He will strengthen and lead efforts at UMD to develop new research programs centered on chemical biology, which applies chemical tools and ideas to biological and medical problems. The field substantially impacts therapeutic research, including creating and discovering new molecules with biological specificity for drug and vaccine development.
“The synthetic methodologies that Dr. Wang has developed enable highly selective grafting of carbohydrates (or glycans) to proteins and other active biomolecules, allowing him to trace, and even manipulate, key biological signals. This research not only advances the discipline of chemistry, it also creates new concepts for drug discovery and development,” added Janice Reutt-Robey, chair of the UMD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Wang is currently a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMB). He received his Ph.D. from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry. After postdoctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined the Institute of Human Virology at UMB as a tenure-track assistant professor in 2000. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2005 and to full professor with tenure in 2009. Wang received the 2014 Melville L. Wolfrom Award and the 2004 Young Investigator Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry, both from the American Chemical Society. He was inducted into the prestigious Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars in 2009.
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