Distinguished Women in Science Series

Upcoming Speaker

October 5, 2018: Prof. Marsha Lester, Edmund J. Kahn Distinguished Professor, University of Pennsylvania & Editor, Journal of Chemical Physics


Our Spring 2018 Distinguished Women in Science Colloquium:

"Connecting Chemistry to Biology to Understand why O­-GlcNAc Transferase is Essential"


Read Professor Walker's Harvard Profile


Suzanne M. Walker, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology
Harvard University Medical School

Friday, April 13, 2018
4:00 - 5:00 PM, MacMillan Hall, Room 115
Refreshments, 3:30 PM, GeoChem Building, Room 349
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O­-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) is an essential mammalian enzyme that catalyzes two fundamentally different, physiologically relevant chemical reactions using the same active site. One reaction is the transfer of N­acetyl glucosamine to Ser/Thr side chains of nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins. OGT uniquely O­-GlcNAcylates myriad intracellular proteins involved in cell growth and division in a nutrient­- and stress-responsive manner, attracting comparisons between it and mTOR. The second reaction is polypeptide backbone cleavage. OGT is required for the proteolytic maturation of another essential mammalian protein, Host Cell Factor 1, a transcriptional co­regulator found in a number of chromatin­ associated complexes. Understanding OGT’s complex biology requires first understanding its chemistry well enough to separate its functions and then developing genetic approaches to replace wildtype OGT with well­ characterized variants. We will talk about our published structural and mechanistic work to understand how OGT catalyzes glycosylation and peptide backbone cleavage, and will also describe recent results that reveal how it chooses many of its substrates. We will then describe how we have combined this knowledge with a genetic system to replace OGT in cells in order to begin to address a key question: why is OGT essential in all dividing mammalian cells? Funding for this work was provided by a National Institutes of Health grant (R01 GM094263).

All are invited.


My Post_1.jpg"Pathways to Success" — Networking Lunch

Professor Walker will also lead a "Pathways to Success" networking lunch from 12:30 - 1:30 PM in the GeoChem Building, Room 351. Learn more and register for lunch. Undergraduates, graduate students, medical students, and postdoctoral researchers are invited.

Questions? Please contact Eric Ferrara.



This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and the Division of Biology & Medicine Office of Women in Medicine & Science




As part of the Distinguished Women in Science speaker series, the Chemistry Department welcomes at least one eminent female chemist per semester to share both her research and experiences with the larger Brown community. Each speaker is invited to present a Friday colloquium and lunch several with graduate schools, during which she is encouraged to discuss her path to success. Speakers are both invited and hosted by graduate students. Funding for this program is generously provided by the Brown Chemistry Department and the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

The series piloted in Fall 2017 with a seminar by Prof. Catherine Drennan of MIT.