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COLLEGE STATION --

Dr. Tadhg P. Begley, the Robert A. Welch Chair and Derek Barton Professor in Chemistry at Texas A&M University, is the 2018 recipient of the A.I. Scott Medal for Excellence in Biological Chemistry Research, named for one of the leading faculty members in Texas A&M's rich chemistry-related history.

The medal is jointly awarded each year by the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry and the Texas A&M Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in tribute to Dr. A. Ian Scott, a Texas A&M distinguished professor of chemistry who made tremendous scientific contributions, both to the university and to the international chemistry community, during his 30-year career.

Begley will be honored during an afternoon symposium set for Friday, October 19, within Texas A&M's Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building. In addition to Begley's 4:30 p.m. keynote presentation, the event will feature preceding talks by California Institute of Technology chemist Peter Dervan and University of Oxford chemist Hagan Bayley. The symposium will be followed by an invitation-only dinner, at which Begley will be presented with the Scott Medal.

Scott was a pioneering chemist who came to Texas A&M in 1977 and achieved worldwide recognition for his discovery of how bacteria produce vitamin B12 as well his study of the cancer drug taxol. Named a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Texas A&M in 1981, Scott held the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry and also was the D.H.R. Barton Professor of Chemistry. He contributed to numerous other works, including breakthroughs related to the essential life pigments chlorophyll and heme along with antibiotics that fundamentally impacted the field of biosynthetic investigation and helped revolutionize both organic and natural product chemistry, before his untimely death in 2007 at age 79.

Begley received his bachelor's of science degree in chemistry from the National University of Ireland and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry with Dervan at Caltech, where he received his first training in applying chemical principles to biological problems. He divided his postdoctoral research between Wolfgang Oppolzer's synthetic chemistry group at the University of Geneva and Christopher Walsh's enzymology group at MIT, where he solved the mechanism of organomercurial lyase -- his first enzyme mechanism. Begley began his academic career at Cornell University in 1986, with research on complex oxidases and light-dependent enzymes. He joined the Texas A&M Chemistry faculty in 2009.

As a world-class chemist, Begley's research involves an innovative combination of molecular biology, protein biochemistry, organic synthesis and structural studies to explore the mechanistic enzymology of vitamin biosynthesis. He has made important contributions to our understanding of the biosynthesis of thiamin, NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a coenzyme found in all living cells), molybdopterin, menaquinone, pyridoxal, cobalamin, coenzyme A and the deazaflavin F420. In the course of this research he has uncovered a treasure trove of new chemistry demonstrating nature's versatility in assembling these key metabolites.

Begley's previous research-related honors include the American Chemical Society Repligen Corporation Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes (2016), a prestigious National Institutes of Health MERIT (Method to Expand Research in Time) Award (2008), an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in Dublin and the Newton-Abraham Visiting Professorship at Oxford.

Widely regarded as a dedicated educator and mentor, Begley has served as the principal investigator for the NIH-sponsored Young Faculty Mentoring Workshop (2010-2015) and has trained more than 90 graduate students and postdocs in his laboratory. In addition to coauthoring with John McMurry the widely used undergraduate textbook, The Organic Chemistry of Biological Pathways, Begley has served as editor of the four-volume Wiley Encyclopedia of Chemical Biology as well as a volume on cofactors in Comprehensive Natural Products Chemistry. He currently is developing an undergraduate course on the organic chemistry of drug design.

To learn more about Begley's research, go to http://www.chem.tamu.edu/rgroup/begley/.

For more information on the Scott Medal Symposium, contact Texas A&M Chemistry at (979) 845-9829 or via email at chemhead@chem.tamu.edu.

To learn more about Texas A&M Chemistry, visit http://www.chem.tamu.edu.

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About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $905.4 million in fiscal year 2017. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation's Higher Education Research and Development survey (2016), based on expenditures of more than $892.7 million in fiscal year 2016. Texas A&M's research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu/.

-aTm-

Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Simon W. North, (979) 845-4947 or north@chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Tadhg P. Begley

  • Dr. A.I. Scott

    The A.I. Scott Medal for Excellence in Biological Chemistry Research honors the 30-year career contributions of Texas A&M chemist Dr. Ian Scott, a world leader in organic and natural product chemistry who passed away in 2007. (Credit: Jim Lyle, TTI Communications, Texas A&M University.)

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