Harran, associate professor of biochemistry at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, gained recognition in 2001 for the discovery of a synthetic alternative to the structure of a natural marine product with anticancer properties. This year, he is being recognized as one of two national winners of the AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Excellence in Chemistry Award for his work on diazonamide A. Found in a rare marine invertebrate called Diazona angulata, it is believed to have potential as an anticancer compound.
The award includes a nonrestricted grant of $50,000, which Harran said will help further his research.
Dr. Steven McKnight, chairman of biochemistry, said Harran's accomplishments are particularly notable given that UT Southwestern is just beginning to establish a reputation in synthetic organic chemistry research.
"The list of former winners of this AstraZeneca Award reads like a who's who of the most outstanding chemists in the entire country," said McKnight. "This recognition reflects well on Patrick, our Department of Biochemistry and all of UT Southwestern."
Harran said this award "is really invaluable, particularly as we are building a strong chemistry presence here."
The cell structure of diazonamide A was first reported in 1991 by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and Cornell University. Because the compound had potential pharmaceutical use and because Diazona angulata is scarce numerous labs quickly began working to synthesize it. Harran and his colleagues not only synthesized the molecule, but by comparing the natural and synthetic products, they discovered that the initial structure reported for the natural product was wrong. They used X-ray crystallograpic and nuclear
magnetic resonance data to re-eval
Contact: Susan Morrisom
UT Southwestern Medical Center