Pre-eminent Chemical Biologist Named Chair of New Umass Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology

September 14, 2000

WORCESTER, Mass.- C. Robert Matthews, PhD, one of the nation's pre-eminent chemical biologists, is joining the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) as chair of the newly constituted Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology. Dr. Matthews comes to the Medical School from Pennsylvania State University, where he was the Eberly Family Professor in Biotechnology, and where his research focused on the mechanisms by which biological proteins fold into unique shapes.

"Bob Matthews is at the forefront of one of the most exciting areas of biomedical research," said UMMS Chancellor and Dean Aaron Lazare. "By bringing his exceptional talents to UMMS at this pivotal time, I fully expect that he will join his new colleagues in bringing about a revolution in the new and growing fields of chemical biology and protein engineering."

The department Matthews will chair combines faculty from the former departments of biochemistry & molecular biology and pharmacology & molecular toxicology. This new, cross-disciplinary research and teaching unit is comprised of more than 30 researchers focusing on structural biology, gene function and expression, X-ray crystallography, signal transduction, synthetic chemistry and drug design.

"I am very excited to be part of a new era of biochemical research at UMass Medical School," said Matthews. "The new chemical biology initiative, funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the new research building, are key components to the development of a world class biochemistry and pharmacology research enterprise."

Matthews graduated from the University of Minnesota and received his PhD from Stanford University. He is currently the principal investigator for a range of research projects funded through the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation in the areas of enzyme structure and function and peptide and protein folding. His investigations are particularly focused on how single amino acids affect protein conformation - an area of great potential for drug discovery and drug design. Matthews is the author of nearly 100 scientific publications. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Protein Engineering and the Biophysical Journal, is the associate editor of the Journal of Molecular Biology and, in 1995, served as the co-chair of the Protein Society's Ninth International Symposium held in Boston. Matthews will reside in Shrewsbury.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of the fastest growing medical schools in the country, attracting more than $100 million in research funding annually. A perennial top ten finisher in the annual US News and World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, UMMS is composed of a medical school, graduate school of nursing, graduate school of biomedical sciences and an active research enterprise, and is a leader in health sciences education, research, and public service. It is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care.

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