Beckman Fellow 2004-05

Scott K. Silverman



Professor Silverman uses techniques from organic chemistry, chemical biology, and biochemistry to understand the nucleic acids, DNA and RNA. His laboratory research is organized into two main areas: (a) fundamental studies of RNA structure, folding, and catalysis and (b) unconventional application of DNA as a structural scaffold and as a catalyst.

The use of DNA as an artificial catalyst for chemical reactions was first demonstrated only ten years ago. Because catalytic DNA molecules have many of the same biochemical properties as protein enzymes, they are often termed DNA enzymes, although no naturally occurring catalytic DNAs have been discovered. During his Center appointment Professor Silverman will develop artificial DNA enzymes to explore reactions of importance to bioorganic chemistry, such as synthesis of protein-nucleic acid and protein-carbohydrate (glycopeptide) conjugates. His research is expected to have an impact on the molecular sciences in two ways. First, the new DNA enzymes will allow practical synthesis of key molecules that are central to many interesting chemical and biological experiments. Second, the new DNA enzymes will expand our understanding of the fundamental catalytic abilities of nucleic acids.