Assistant professor receives National Science Foundation Career Award

Gong Chen, an assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State, has been honored with a 2011 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award is the most prestigious award given by the NSF in support of junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research. The CAREER award provides five years of funding and is given to assistant professors by the NSF directorates at different times during the year.

Chen conducts synthetic and biological studies of carbohydrates and peptides, two of the essential building blocks of living organisms. His goal is to develop a variety of biochemical tools that can be used to identify novel biological functions of carbohydrates and peptides. For example, he is undertaking chemical syntheses of complex carbohydrate-based and peptide-based natural products that have interesting structural and biological properties; he is developing new synthetic strategies to prepare artificial receptors with high specificity and affinity for complex carbohydrates; and he is conducting molecular-imaging studies in order to visualize dynamic glycosylation processes -- the addition of sugar groups to proteins -- inside living cells. Chen hopes that his work will not only reveal molecular mechanisms, but also will facilitate the development of valuable therapeutic and diagnostic agents.

Chen is the recipient of a New York State Breast Cancer Research Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Columbia Graduate Faculty Fellowship, and a Renming Scholarship. He has published over a dozen papers in peer-reviewed journals and holds two patents.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State in 2008, Chen was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He earned a doctoral degree in bioorganic chemistry at Columbia University in 2004 and a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Nanjing University in 1999.

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Last Updated July 06, 2011