Lamar Dodd Creative Research Award
Natarajan Kannan, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Institute of Bioinformatics, leads an internationally recognized program at the interface of bioinformatics and biochemistry. Developing and applying sophisticated statistical and computational tools, he maps the complex relationships connecting sequence, structure, function and regulation in large families of protein kinases. These enzymes turn signals on and off in cells, a critical part of cell communication. Kinases are involved in many diseases and in related drug development studies as anti-cancer and infectious disease targets. He has also developed powerful informatics tools and deep learning models for the classification and evolutionary analysis of glycosyltransferases, a large family of enzymes. He is leveraging new information from these proteins from different cell, tissue, disease types and organisms to develop predictions about how they propagate signals in diseases. And he continues to train the next generation of scientists to apply new computational tools for biological discovery.