Carolyn Bertozzi, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, has been elected as one of this year’s ten new Foreign Members to the Royal Society for her pioneering work in the field of bioorthogonal chemistry.
The Royal Society is the oldest national scientific institution made up of the world’s most distinguished scientists, engineers and technologists. Bertozzi will be formally admitted to the Society at the Admissions Day ceremony in London in July, when she will sign her name in the Society’s Charter Book, alongside such legendary scientists as Albert Einstein, Ernest Rutherford and Stephen Hawking.
Bertozzi described her election to the Royal Society as a huge honor but added that “it’s the daily work of being at Stanford with my colleagues, students and my patients that is the real joy.”
Royal Society Members are elected through a peer review process based on notable contributions in their field of science. Bertozzi is credited with inventing the field of bioorthogonal chemistry, which allows for the study of biomolecules in real time in living systems without interference. By developing the toolset of bioorthogonal labeling, Bertozzi has enabled biologists and chemists alike to answer research questions in innovative ways.
Bertozzi's current research focus is in the field of glycoscience, the study of sugars on cell surfaces. As a self-described “glycoscience-lifer,” Bertozzi said she hopes that the “integration of all my contributions somehow elevates the visibility of the glycoscience field, which can have real benefits to human health,” including understanding the role sugars play in the development of cancer and inflammation.
As a faculty fellow at Stanford ChEM-H (Chemistry, Engineering & Medicine for Human Health), the core mission behind Bertozzi’s research is that of translational science. “I’m very interested in human health and disease and translating the discoveries we make at a basic science level to the development of new therapies and diagnostics,” she said.