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Brandt Eichman Wins International Biochemistry Award

Posted by on Friday, May 8, 2020 in News Story, Research.

William R. Kenan, Jr. Chair Brandt Eichman has been named the recipient of the Biochemical Society’s 2021 International Award for outstanding and independent research that demonstrates the importance of the molecular biosciences.

photo portrait of Brandt Eichman
Brandt Eichman (Vanderbilt University)

The Biochemical Society, the UK’s leading organization of biochemists, gives the award each year to an early- to mid-career scientist who has conducted research outside the UK and Ireland. Eichman, who is also Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences and Professor of Biochemistry, has been invited to deliver a lecture at a 2021 Society event and submit a paper to one of the Society’s publications. The award includes a £2,000 prize.

Eichman studies the molecular structure of DNA, with a specialization in the mechanisms that damage DNA molecules and the proteins that repair them. He uses X-ray crystallography to reveal the atomic structure of the proteins. Eichman’s research and other work like it has significant implications for cancer research, since DNA damage can lead to cancer but is also one of the primary mechanisms by which chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells.

“Brandt and his laboratory have contributed a series of widely cited and influential publications that have illuminated the actions of key proteins that are responsible for responding to, and repairing, damaged DNA. He stands out as a world-class leader in using the structural biology approach to understand the maintenance and propagation of our genomes,” said Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry Walter Chazin, who holds the Chancellor’s Chair in Medicine.

Chazin also directs the Center for Structural Biology, which was instrumental in recruiting Eichman to Vanderbilt. The two scientists often work together, and those collaborations are what led Chazin to nominate Eichman for the Biochemical Society award.

For Eichman, the award is a reminder of how Vanderbilt researchers so often support one another in their work.

“My favorite thing about Vanderbilt is the quality of the people, from the undergraduates and graduate students, to the postdocs, faculty, and staff. I’m always impressed with their professionalism and level of dedication to what they do,” he said. “There’s an idea of striving for excellence, but not at the expense of other people or everything else in your life.”

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