Office: Cristol Chemistry 355
Lab: Cristol Chemistry 314, 318, 363
Lab Phone: 303-492-7723, 303-492-6357, 303-492-8607
Ph.D.: Northwestern University, 1968
Bio-Organic & Bio-Inorganic, Nucleic Acids, Chemical Biology/Genetics
1975-1980 USPHS Career Development Award
1981 Guggenheim Fellow
1992 International Biotechnology Ventures Award
1994 Elliott Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute
1994 Member, American Academy of Arts & Sciences
1994 Member, National Academy of Sciences
1999 ABRF — Hewlett Packard Award for Outstanding Contributions to Biomolecular Technologies
2004 Prelog Medal in Recognition of Pioneering Work on the Chemical Synthesis, Zurich, Switzerland
2005 National Academy of Sciences Award for Chemistry in Service to Society
2006 Promega Biotechnology Research Award, ASM, Orlando, FL
2006 The Economist Innovation Award, London, England
2006 National Medal of Science, Washington, D.C.
2006 Imbach-Townsend Award of the International Society of Nucleic Acid Research
2009 Girindus Leadership in Oligonucleotides Award
2012 The Biotech Meeting 25th Anniversary Hall of Fame Recognition Award, Laguna Beach, CA
2014 National Academy of Science Award in Chemical Sciences
2014 ACS Award for Creative Invention
2014 Frantisek Sorm Medal, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Professor Caruthers' interests include nucleic acid chemistry and biochemistry. Approximately 30 years ago, the methodologies that are currently used for chemically synthesizing DNA were developed in this laboratory (Fig. 1). These procedures have been incorporated into so-called "gene machines" for the purpose of synthesizing DNA that is used by biochemists, biologists, molecular biologists and biophysical chemists for various research applications. More recently, in a collaboration with Agilent Laboratories, this procedure has been adapted for use with modified ink jet printers in order to synthesize DNA on glass chips. Using this modified chemistry, Agilent has developed instruments that synthesize the equivalent of the human genome each day (DNA 300 nucleotides in length, 3 billion base pairs, 6 billion coupling reactions). Currently underway in the Caruthers' laboratory are investigations desinged to imporve the chemistry further so that we can chemically generate DNA 600-900 nucleotides in length.
The group's interest also focuses on the synthesis of new DNA/RNA analogs (Fig 2) followed by in depth analyses on the use of these derivatives for biology and nanotechnology applications. For example, ethynylphosphate DNA reacts with azides to generate triazoylphosphonate analogs. Triazoylphosphonate DNA and peptide/amino acid substituted triazoylphosphonate DNA under go rapid transfection into various cell lines (HeLa, WM-239A, Jurkat, and SK-N-F1) and exhibit biological activity as an antimer in a dual luciferase assay. Similar results were obtained with boranephosphonate DNA.
In the nanotechnology arena, we have recently shown that boranephosphonate DNA reduces silver, gold, and platinum salts to metals. When two-dimensional DNA arrays are constructed with one DNA segment as boranephosphonate DNA, and the arrays are bathed in silver nitrate, silver is deposited at boranephosphonate DNA sites (Fig. 3). The resulting arrays contain repetitive silver spots that are readily detected by transmission electron mircoscopy.
We continue to develop new analogs with several presented in Figure 2. Many of these are expected to find application in biochemistry, human diagnostics, biology, and nanotechnology.