Kevan M. Shokat, University of California, San Francisco, received the 2023 NAS Award for Scientific Discovery.

Shokat is a pioneer of modern chemical biology, using innovative approaches to develop powerful molecular tools to advance basic knowledge and combat devastating diseases. 

Shokat, a professor at both the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, Berkeley, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, has established an innovative and productive interdisciplinary research program that has produced an array of powerful chemical methods for studying cell biology. Early in his career, Shokat developed orthogonal kinase-substrate pairs, powerfully demonstrating how useful chemogenetic tools could be in dissecting complex signaling pathways in vivo. 

Shokat’s recent discovery of inhibitors targeted to the commonly mutated cancer oncogene, K-Ras, has led to the discovery of the first drugs against a target previously considered undruggable. This breakthrough has led to a revolutionary new approach to cancer treatment that is already having a major medical impact.

The NAS Award for Scientific Discovery is presented every two years to recognize an accomplishment or discovery in basic research, achieved within the previous five years, that is expected to have a significant impact on one or more of the following fields: Astronomy, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, materials science, or physics through the selection of recipients of the Award. A candidate must be a scientist at a university, college, or other research institution within the United States. Endowed in 2014 in honor of John P. Schaefer through a gift from Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) and the Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation this award is presented with a medal, a $50,000 prize, and $50,000 to support the recipient’s research.


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