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Chemistry society honors Armstrong

BY: LEIGH MACMILLAN

1/06/2011 - Richard Armstrong, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2011 Repligen Award in the Chemistry of Biological Processes, presented by the Division of Biological Chemistry of the American Chemical Society.

Richard Armstrong, Ph.D.

Richard Armstrong, Ph.D.

The award recognizes Armstrong's contributions to the understanding of detoxification enzymes — proteins that metabolize foreign molecules such as drugs, toxins and other chemicals and are essential to an organism's ability to resist chemical insults.

“This is a very surprising honor and a particularly significant one to me considering that the early recipients of this award were my scientific heroes at the beginning of my independent career,” said Armstrong, professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry.

Armstrong and colleagues have determined structural and mechanistic features of glutathione transferases, a family of detoxification enzymes.

They have also developed techniques to evaluate the role of conformational changes that occur in the function of membrane-bound enzymes.

In work started in 1995 at Vanderbilt, his group also discovered multiple mechanisms for the resistance of pathogenic organisms to the antibiotic fosfomycin. Their findings provide a rational basis for the design of new drugs to counter antibiotic resistance.

Armstrong earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Marquette University. He completed postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago and was a Staff Fellow in the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry at the National Institutes of Health. He was on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park for 15 years before coming to Vanderbilt in 1995.

Armstrong is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biochemistry since 2004.

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