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IUPAC Prize for Young Chemists - 2003
Honorable Mention



Lei Wang receives one of three Honorable Mention awards associated with the IUPAC Prize for Young Chemists, for his Ph.D. thesis work entitled "Expanding the Genetic Code of Escherichia coli."

Current address (at the time of application)

University of California, San Diego
CMM West 310, Mail Code: 0647
9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0647, USA

E-mail: [email protected]

Academic degrees

  • Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley, Bioorganic Chemistry, May 2002
  • M.S. Peking University, Physical Chemistry, July 1997
  • B.S. Peking University, Organic Chemistry, July 1994


    Ph.D. Thesis

    Title Expanding the Genetic Code of Escherichia coli
    Advisers Prof. Peter G. Schultz
    Thesis Committee Prof. Jonathan A. Ellman, Department of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley; Prof. Jasper D. Rine, Deparment of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley.


    The genetic code of virtually every known organism, from bacterium to human, encodes the same twenty common amino acids. Only in rare instances, selenocysteine or pyrrolysine is used. Nonetheless, it is remarkable that polypeptides synthesized from these simple building blocks can carry out all of the complex processes of life, from photosynthesis and vision to signal transduction and the immune response. Could the genetic code be expanded to include additional amino acids? Could the properties of proteins, or possibly an entire organism, be enhanced by new amino acids with novel chemical, structural or physical properties? My dissertation focused on the development of a general strategy that makes it possible to incorporate unnatural amino acids site-specifically into proteins directly in living cells, and the application of these genetically encoded novel amino acids.

    Full text essay [pdf file - 351KB]

Page last modified 29 April 2003.
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