Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Kurt Drickamer

Dr. Drickamer received a BS degree in Chemistry from Stanford University in 1973 and a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Harvard University in 1977. He was a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow with Professor Robert L. Hill at Duke University and Dr James D. Watson at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

During this time, he started studying the structure of glycan-binding receptors, a theme that he continues to pursue to this day. He has held academic positions at the University of Chicago, Columbia University and the University of Oxford and was appointed to the Chair in Biochemistry at Imperial College London in 2005. He has received research fellowships from the Searle Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Fogarty International Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. In addition to serving on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Alberta Glycomics Centre, Professor Drickamer is a member of the steering committee of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics.

Dr. Geert-Jan Boons

Dr. Boons received his M.Sc. in Chemistry in 1987 and his Ph.D. in Synthetic Carbohydrate Chemistry in 1991 from the State University of Leiden in The Netherlands. Prior to joining the faculty at the CCRC in 1998, he spent seven years in the United Kingdom, first as a postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College, London, and the University of Cambridge, and then as a lecturer and professor at the University of Birmingham. In 2003, Dr. Boons was awarded the Carbohydrate Research Award for Creativity in Carbohydrate Science by the European Carbohydrate Association. Also in 2003, he was elected chairman for the 2005 Gordon Research Conference on Carbohydrates. In 2004, Dr. Boons received the Horace Isbell Award by the Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and was appointed Franklin Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia. In 2012, he received the Creative Research Inventor’s Award by the University of Georgia Research Foundation and was appointed UGA Foundation Distinguished Professor in Biochemical Sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia. He has been awarded by the International Carbohydrate Organization the Roy L. Whistler International Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry for 2014.

Dr. Beat Ernst

Beat Ernst studied chemistry at the ETH in Zürich and compiled his Ph.D. thesis entitled “Novel Tricyclic C10-, C11- and C12-Hydrocarbons” under the guidance of Professor Oskar Jeger and Professor Camille Ganter. In 1979, he joined the group of Professor Robert E. Ireland / Californian Institute of Technology in Pasadena as a postdoctoral fellow where he completed the total synthesis of tirandamycic acid. In 1981, he joined the Central Research Laboratories of Ciba-Geigy Ltd. in Basel, became group leader in 1983 and head of the section Carbohydrate Chemistry and Biology in 1992. After the merger of CIBA and SANDOZ in 1996, he moved to the therapeutic area Transplantation, where he was heading the program “Selectin Antagonists”. In October 1998, he accepted a position as Professor of Molecular Pharmacy at the University of Basel. His research interests are the chemical and enzymatic synthesis of therapeutically promising oligosaccharides and mimetics thereoff and the investigation of carbohydrate/protein interactions by NMR, surface plasmon resonance, microcaloimetry, and molecular modeling.

Dr. Carlito Lebrilla

Dr. Carlito B. Lebrilla is a Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Davis in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine in the School of Medicine. He received his BS degree from the University of California, Irvine and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow and a NSF-NATO Fellow at the Technical University in Berlin. He returned to the UC Irvine as a President’s Fellow and has been at UC Davis since 1989. He has served as Chair of the Chemistry Department. His research is in Analytical Chemistry, primarily mass spectrometry with applications to clinical glycomics and biofunctional food. He has over 320 peer-reviewed publications. He is also co-editor of Mass Spectrometry Reviews and has been on the editorial board of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, Mass Spectrometry Reviews, Journal of American Society for Mass Spectrometry, European Mass Spectrometry, and International Journal of Mass Spectrometry.

Dr. Ben Liu

Professor Hung-wen (Ben) Liu was born in Taipei, Taiwan. He graduated with a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Tunghai University (Taiwan). After two years of military service, he began his graduate study at Columbia University where he carried out research under Professor Koji Nakanishi. His work on the additivity relation in exciton-split circular dichroism curves and its application in structural studies of oligosaccharides earned him a Ph.D. in 1981. He then joined Professor Christopher Walsh’s group at MIT as a postdoctoral fellow. There he became involved in the field of mechanistic enzymology. In 1984, he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. He was promoted through the ranks becoming the Distinguished McKnight University Professor in 1999. In the summer of 2000, Liu moved to the University of Texas at Austin. He currently holds the George Hitchings Regent Chair in Drug Design, and is a Professor in the Medicinal Chemistry Division of the College of Pharmacy and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Texas, Austin.

Liu’s research lies at the crossroads of chemistry and biology, where he is particularly interested in trying to understand the chemistry that underlies mechanistically novel and important chemical transformations related to secondary metabolism. Over the years, his group has studied many intriguing chemical transformations in a wide variety of natural product classes. His multi-faceted approach in studying bioorganic problems, especially the biosynthesis of unusual sugars and radicals in enzyme catalysis, has earned him many awards including the National Institutes of Health Research Career Development Award (1990), the Horace S. Isbell Award from the American Chemical Society Carbohydrate Division (1993), the MERIT Award from the National Institute of General Medicine (1999), the Nakanishi Prize from the American Chemical Society Organic Division (2007), the Repligen Award from the American Chemical Society Biological Division (2008), the A. I. Scott Medal (2011), and the Arthur C. Cope Late Career Scholars Award from the American Chemical Society (2014). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Microbiology, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the American Chemical Society, and an academician of Academia Sinica. He serves on many review panels and editorial boards. He has been an Associate Editor of Organic Letters since 2004. He was the chair of the American Chemical Society Biological Division during 2013-2014.

Dr. Jim Paulson

Dr. Paulson obtained his PhD (Biochemistry) in 1974 from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and did post-doctoral work from 1974-1978 with Dr. Robert L. Hill at the Duke University Medical Centre, in Durham, North Carolina. From 1978 – 1990 he rose from Assistant Professor to full Professor and vice-chair in the Department of Biological Chemistry at the UCLA School of Medicine. From 1990-1999 he served as Vice President and Member Board of Directors of Cytel Corporation, La Jolla, CA. From 1999-present he has been a Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Molecular Experimental Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, California.

Dr. Paulson served as the President for the Society for Glycobiology from 2002-2003, and is currently Director of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics ( an international consortium of over 300 investigators. He has over 200 publications on the biosynthesis and functions of glycoprotein and glycolipid glycans, and chemo-enzymatic synthesis of oligosaccharides. In the last 15 years his research has focused on the roles of carbohydrate binding proteins in immune cell function.

Dr. Peter Seeberger

Dr. Seeberger received his Vordiplom in 1989 from the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, where he studied chemistry as a Bavarian government fellow. In 1990 he moved as a Fulbright scholar to the University of Colorado where he earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry under the guidance of Marvin H. Caruthers in 1995. After a postdoctoral fellowship with Samuel J. Danishefsky at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City he became Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in January 1998 and was promoted to Firmenich Associate Professor of Chemistry with tenure in 2002. In June 2003 he assumed a position as Professor for Organic Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland and a position as Affiliate Professor at the Burnham Institute in La Jolla, CA. In January 2009 he accepted the position of Director of the Department for Biomolecular Systems at the Max-Planck-Institute for Colloids and Interfaces and the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Free University Berlin.

Professor Seeberger’s research has been documented in over 140 articles in peer-reviewed journals, one book, thirteen issued patents and patent applications, more than 70 published abstracts and more than 270 invited lectures. Among other awards he received the Technology Review Top 100 Young Innovator Award (1999), MIT’s Edgerton Award (2002), an Arthur C. Cope Young Scholar Award and the Horace B. Isbell Award from the American Chemical Society (2003), the Otto-Klung Weberbank Prize for Chemistry (2004), the Award of the European Society of Combinatorial Sciences (2005), the Carbohydrate Research Award (2005) and the AstraZeneca Award for Organic Chemistry (2006). In 2007 he will receive the Havinga medal. Peter H. Seeberger is the Editor of the Journal of Carbohydrate Chemistry and serves on the editorial advisory boards of eleven other journals. He is a founding member of the board of the Tesfa-Ilg “Hope for Africa” Foundation that aims at improving health care in Ethiopia in particular by providing access to malaria vaccines and HIV treatments. He is a consultant and serves on the scientific advisory board of several companies.