Guengerich Receives Research Award

Biochemist's research on how cancer-causing chemicals interact with DNA key to understanding how cancer develops

July 30, 2010 | LEIGH MACMILLAN

F. Peter (Fred) Guengerich, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Biochemistry, is the recipient of the 2010 R.T. Williams Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award, presented by the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX).

Fred Guengerich, Ph.D.

Fred Guengerich, Ph.D.

Xenobiotics are compounds that are foreign to an organism, such as drugs, food additives and environmental pollutants.

The award, which is presented once every three years, recognizes the “best in the field, internationally,” according to ISSX. Guengerich will be honored at the 9th International Meeting of ISSX in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sept. 5.

“When I started my faculty career, I hoped to have some impact in this field,” said Guengerich, the Harry Pearson Broquist Professor of Biochemistry. “Over the years, our laboratory seemed to be working on projects at the right time, and things went further than I ever thought they would. I have many excellent students and postdocs to thank, as well as mentors.

“By no means does this mean I’ve finished; we still have many exciting challenges.”

Over the last 35 years, Guengerich and his colleagues have focused on how proteins called P450 enzymes metabolize drugs and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). They have also worked to understand how carcinogens interact with DNA to form adducts and how these adducts produce genetic mutations. Their work has been important for understanding the mechanisms underlying cancer development, as well as suggesting ways to prevent the disease.

With more than 590 peer-reviewed publications, Guengerich is one of the most highly cited researchers worldwide in the areas of biochemistry and pharmacology.

A member of the Vanderbilt faculty since 1975, Guengerich has received numerous honors for his teaching and research, including two last year: the award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research from the American Association for Cancer Research, and induction into the first class of American Chemical Society Fellows.

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