Alanna Schepartz

Alanna Schepartz

Sterling Professor of Chemistry, Yale University
Principal Investigator


Alanna Schepartz received B.S. degree in Chemistry from the State University of New York-Albany in 1982 and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Columbia University in 1982. Following postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology, in 1988 she joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at Yale University. In 2017 she was named a Sterling Professor, one of the university’s highest faculty honors.

Research interests

Chemical and synthetic biology: Our lab seeks to understand how macromolecular interactions control sophisticated biological processes such as information transfer, intracellular trafficking, and compartmentalization. Our approach is to develop new chemical, biophysical, and optical tools that control, manipulate, or mimic protein assemblies inside the cell, and use them to interrogate biology in ways that would otherwise be impossible. Current topics include:

  1. the development and application of fluorogenic small molecules to monitor protein conformational changes associated with information transfer and;
  2. organelle function and dynamics at super-resolution in live cells;
  3. a wholesale re-engineering of the bacterial translation machinery to synthesize a/β-peptides, polyketides, and sequence-defined polymer such as next-generation Kevlars, polyurethanes, and polyolefins; and
  4. the discovery and characterization of a novel cellular machinery that facilitates the highly efficient endosomal release of protein therapeutics into the cytosol and nucleus of mammalian cells.

Distinctions and Awards

Alanna Schepartz has received numerous awards for her work, including a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship (1990), a N.S.F. Presidential Young Investigator Award (1991), a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1993), an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (1994), an A.C.S. Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (1995), the A.C.S. Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry (1997), the Dylan Hixon ‘88 Award for Teaching Excellence in the Natural Sciences (1999), the Agnes Fay Morgan Research Award (2002), the Frank H. Westheimer Prize Medal (2008), the ACS Chemical Biology Prize & Prize Lecture (2010), for which she was the inaugural recipient, the Alexander M. Cruickshank Prize (2010), the Ronald Breslow Award for Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry (2012), and the Wheland Medal (2015).

In 2010, Schepartz was elected as a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Chemical Society. From 2005 to 2016, she served the chemical biology community as an Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and in 2016 was appointed as Editor-in-Chief of the ACS journal Biochemistry. In 2014, Alanna was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Recent publications

  • In vivo biosynthesis of a β-amino acid-containing protein. C. Melo Czekster, W.E. Robertson, A.S. Walker, D. Soll, & A. Schepartz, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 5194-7.

  • β-peptide bundles: design. build. analyze. biosynthesize. P.S. Wang & A. Schepartz, Chem. Commun. 2016, 52, 7420-32.

  • Rotamer-restricted fluorogenicity of the bis-arsenical ReAsH. A.S. Walker, P.R. Rablen, & A. Schepartz, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 7143-50. Chosen for cover image.

  • Long time-lapse nanoscopy with spontaneously blinking membrane probes, Nature Biotechnology. H. Takakura, Y. Zhang, R.S. Erdmann, A.D. Thompson, Y. Lin, B. McNellis, F. Rivera-Molina, S.N. Uno, M. Kamiya, Y. Urano, J.E. Rothman, J. Bewersdorf, A. Schepartz, & D. Toomre, Nat. Biotechnol. 2017, in press.

  • Long-term live-cell STED nanoscopy of primary and cultured cells with the plasma membrane HIDE probe Dil-SiR. A.D. Thompson, M.H. Omar, F. Rivera-Molina, Z. Xi, A.J. Koleske, D. Toomre, & A. Schepartz, Angew. Chem. 2017, in press.

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