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Sat, Feb 10, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan scientist wins top award in American chemistry


Taiwan-born chemistry professor Lee Yuan-chuan (李遠川) of Johns Hopkins University was chosen on Thursday as the recipient of this year's Claude S. Hudson Award, the most prestigious citation in US chemistry circles.

A member of Academia Sinica, Lee will receive the Claude S. Hudson Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry from the American Chemistry Association (ACA) in a presentation ceremony slated for April 3 in San Diego, California, ACA sources said.

Lee, elder brother of Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), will be the only award winner in carbohydrate chemistry at this year's ACA National Awards and the only Chinese to receive an ACA national award this year.

ACA sources said 68-year-old Lee, a professor at Johns Hopkins since 1965, was chosen because his "persistent efforts have enabled significant advances in the understanding of glycoconjugates such as glycoproteins and glycolipids."

Born in Taiwan, Lee earned a master's degree in agricultural chemistry from National Taiwan University in 1957. He obtained a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Iowa in 1962. His graduate thesis was on the subject of carbohydrate structure of chicken ovalbumin.

His thesis, as well as postgraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley on the subject of Mycobacterium gly-colipids and lipopoly-saccharides, motivated Lee to devote himself to the study of glycobiology and glycosciences, according to the ACA.

Lee's research yielded many insights. For instance, he found ways to analyze both qualitatively and quantitatively the composition of glycoconjugates and also how to determine their structure. Along the way, ACA sources said, Lee developed one of the first automated sugar analyzers, which consisted of a cation-exchange column for amino sugars and an anion column for neutral sugars in the 10-nmol range.

These inventions eventually evolved to the form of HPAEC (high-performance anion-exchange chromatography), which is faster and more sensitive. HPAEC is now a standard instrumentation in most carbohydrate research laboratories.

Using such analytical tools, Lee established the structures of many N- and O-linked glycans. He was the first to put forth the concept of "core structure" for the N-glycoside, according to an academic familiar with Lee's work.

Lee is an artist when he is not working with chemistry. He paints, writes and plays cello, viola and violin. One of his works, written in Japanese, was cited by Japanese literary circles as one of the best 60 writings of the year some twelve years ago.

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