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  • Jacqueline Barton
    Jacqueline Barton
    Credit: Bob Paz for Caltech
01/22/2019 10:44:12

Jacqueline Barton Wins National Academy of Sciences Prize

Jacqueline K. Barton, the John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry and Norman Davidson Leadership Chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, has been awarded the 2019 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Award in Chemical Sciences. The award, which is presented annually "to honor innovative research in the chemical sciences that contributes to a better understanding of the natural sciences and to the benefit of humanity," according to the NAS website, was first given to the late Caltech professor and Nobel laureate Linus Pauling in 1979. 

"It's really a very special honor, and especially so because it honors the extraordinary work of my students and co-workers, both past and present," says Barton of receiving the award.

Barton's research is important for understanding how DNA is damaged, repaired, and replicated within the cell. She demonstrated, in the early 1990s, that DNA can act like an electrical wire to transport electrical charges over long distances, and that this mechanism can be used by a cell to locate and repair potentially harmful mutations to DNA. Her team has also shown that this wire-like property of DNA may be linked to cancer and that it plays a role in DNA replication. Barton and her colleagues have also designed metal complexes that recognize sites within DNA. These metal complexes have been used as tools to elucidate this DNA chemistry as well as in the development of novel chemotherapy drugs. 

Barton has received numerous awards, including the the 2015 Priestley Medal from theAmerican Chemical Society's (ACS); ACS's Award in Pure Chemistry, a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Science Foundation's Alan T. Waterman Award, and the National Medal of Science. Barton is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine.

More about the NAS Award in Chemical Sciences is online at http://www.nasonline.org/programs/awards/chemical-sciences.html.

Written by Whitney Clavin