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Vahe Bandarian, researcher in enzymatic transformation, selected as ACS fellow

Vahe Bandarian, a professor of chemistry at the University of Utah, has been named a fellow by the American Chemical Society (ACS) in recognition of his accomplishments elucidating biosynthesis and this process’s potential for producing new compounds.

The nation’s largest scientific organization, ACS announced Bandarian’s selection on July 31, making him the sixth member of the U Department of Chemistry to be so honored.

He joins Joel Harris, Cynthia J. Burrows, C. Dale Poulter, Peter Stang and Henry S. White named ACS fellows.

Currently associate dean for student affairs in the College of Science, Bandarian arrived at the U in 2015 after a dozen years on faculty at the University of Arizona. His doctorate was earned at the University of Wisconsin.

Earlier this year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) elected Bandarian as a fellow in recognition of “discoveries in the field of tRNA modifications and key contribution to mechanistic basis of radical-mediated transformations leading to complex natural products.”

Bandarian’s lab studies how bacterial enzymes help produce natural chemical products, including many products that aren’t required for the bacteria to grow but can provide a competitive advantage in the bacteria’s ecosystem.“These compounds span a large swath of chemical space and include modified bases in RNA, modified peptides and small molecules,” he said. “Our overall goal is to discover and understand the details of these enzymatic transformations.”

Bandarian also examines how the process of biosynthesis, including these enzymes, can be harnessed to produce designed compounds with potential therapeutic properties.