Press Archive

SDSC Senior Fellow Susan Taylor Elected To NAS

Published 05/01/1996

Susan Taylor, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and SDSC senior fellow, was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) April 30. Academy membership is considered one of the highest honors accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer, and this year 60 scientists were elected to join the ranks of 1,760 active NAS members.

Taylor is also a codirector, with SDSC and UCSD scientist Lynn Ten Eyck, of the Computational Center for Macromolecular Structure (CCMS), funded by the National Science Foundation and headquartered at SDSC.

"I am deeply honored by this recognition from my colleagues," Taylor told SDSCwire from her laboratory. "Growing up scientifically at the University of California, San Diego, has been a tremendously exciting experience. I could not have achieved this without the unique dynamic and interactive scientific environment that has evolved on this young campus." She added that her strong interactions with SDSC have been "a truly unique opportunity, enabling our group to perform complex calculations, to visualize the kinase in three dimensions, and to collaborate with coworkers around the world."

Taylor is a protein chemist renowned for her structure/function analysis of protein kinases and their role in signal transduction in cells. Taylor and her group at UCSD are well known for solving in 1991 the 3-D crystal structure of the catalytic unit of cyclic-AMP-dependent protein kinase (CAPK). Featured on the cover of July 26, 1991, issue of Science, the structure was the first to be solved and is the prototype for the large family of enzymes, or catalysts, in the cell that regulate processes as diverse as growth, differentiation, and memory. The human genome, for example, codes for several thousand protein kinases.

The structure was hailed as a "monumental piece of work" by Edwin Krebs of the University of Washington, who first isolated CAPK in 1968. It clearly indicated how protein kinases function within the cell. The details of the processes have since been explored by the Taylor group and many collaborators. They have opened a broad field of research that can have a major long-term impact on the treatment of diseases, including Alzheimer's, diabetes, and certain cancers. The kinase research of Taylor and colleagues again appeared in Science August 11, 1995 (see the October-December 1995 Gather/Scatter).

Susan Serota Taylor was born in 1942 in Racine, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin as an undergraduate. She obtained her doctoral degree from The Johns Hopkins University in 1968 and carried out postdoctoral research at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, U.K., and at UCSD. She joined the UCSD faculty in 1972 and has since received numerous honors, fellowships, and awards. She was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992 and received the Forefronts of Large Scale Computation Award in 1993. She is currently president of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and has served on the National Research Council's Commission on Life Sciences. She is also on the American Cancer Society Council for Research and Clinical Investigation Awards and the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Counselors. She became an SDSC senior fellow in 1994.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. The Academy was established by Congress in 1863 to act as an official adviser to the Federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. NAS studies and publications traditionally have exerted great influence on the course of American scientific endeavors.

SDSC, a national laboratory for computational science and engineering, is sponsored by NSF, other agencies, the State and University of California, and private organizations; is affiliated with the University of California, San Diego; and is administered by General Atomics. For more information, see SDSC's Web site or contact Ann Redelfs, SDSC,, 619-534-5032.