New Haven, Connecticut
Milton Harris 29’ Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Dr. Alanna Schepartz has developed anti-cancer drugs called beta-peptide inhibitors to address one of the biggest challenges in drug discovery — how to block “protein-protein interactions” within cells that are closely related to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. Many proteins that cause disease simply to bind to other proteins inside the cell. Proteins that function in this way are said to participate in “protein-protein interactions”. Protein drugs almost without exception carry out their tasks outside the cell, not within. The beta-peptide inhibitors developed by Dr. Schepartz represent a new generation of anti-cancer drugs that are highly effective and specific in targeting almost any cancer-related protein-protein interaction. This new class of drugs may positively impact the treatment of almost half of all cancers. The Schepartz laboratory synthesized a series of peptide molecules that may provide a new therapeutic approach to inhibit EGFR — an important protein that is often mutated in non-small cell lung cancer. The molecules can be used to inhibit even those forms of EGFR that are resistant to current therapies. Continued development of these new therapeutic agents could lead to new and more effective ways of treating patients whose lung cancer has already developed resistance to current therapies.
Dr. Alanna Schepartz received her B.S. from State University of New York, Albany, NY and her Ph.D. at Columbia University. She then conducted postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology. She joined the faculty at Yale in 1988 as an Assistant Professor, was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 1995, and was named a Sterling Professor in 2017. In 2019, Alanna moved to the University of California, Berkeley where she is now the C.Z. and Irmgard Chu Distinguished Chair of Chemistry and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology. She is also a Faculty Affiliate of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3).
From 1991 to 2004, Dr. Schepartz co-directed the NFCR Center for Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry and from 2005 to 2010 she directed the NFCR Center for Anti-Cancer Drug Design and Discovery. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry, Wheland Medal, and the inaugural recipient of the ACS Chemical Biology Prize.
Alanna Schepartz has also received numerous awards for teaching and service to the community. She served as Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society and is Editor-in-Chief of the classic ACS journal Biochemistry.