Professor John Chaput received the Athalie Clarke Achievement Award on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Chaput is the inaugural recipient from the UC Irvine School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, which was officially established as a school in July 2020.
Research Associates hosts the annual community event to recognize distinguished Athalie Clarke Achievement Award recipients and celebrate Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences researchers whose investigations have made a lasting impact on human health.
“It’s a tremendous honor for me to be recognized by my colleagues for the work that we do here at UCI,” Chaput said. “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. James Swinden and other family members across the generations who have supported research through this and other UCI programs. Your generosity is truly appreciated and we in the faculty are grateful for your high level of community engagement these past many years.”
In introducing him to the virtual ceremony’s attendees, Founding Dean Jan Hirsch talked about Chaput’s efforts to redesign the genetic polymers of life into molecules that can be used to improve human health or overcome major technological challenges.
“John is widely recognized as a world leader and pioneer in the field of synthetic genetics, an area of synthetic biology that is extending the age-old concepts of heredity and evolution to artificial genetic polymers,” Hirsch said.
One immediate impact of Chaput’s work includes the recent development of a rapid COVID-19 test that has been internally validated using clinical samples from UCI medical center.
Most of Chaput’s other work focuses on developing technology platforms for next-generation therapeutics. One of his platforms is designed to compete with human monoclonal antibodies as therapeutics, and would likely impact diseases caused by chronic inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and asthma, but could also be used against other diseases as well.
“I want to emphasize that this journey has only just begun,” Chaput said, “and the Athalie R. Clarke award will help keep us on the path.”
In thanking his collaborators, Chaput highlighted the members of his research team. He plans to use the award to support students in his lab.
“I would like to thank all of the current and past members of my lab,” he said. “This award, more than anything, recognizes their hard work and dedication to team science.”
Two other UCI faculty members received the Athalie Clarke Achievement Award on Tuesday: Dawn Bounds of the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing and Susan O’Brien of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and School of Medicine.