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Distinguished Fellow

Steven Benner

Education

  • BS in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Yale University (1976)
  • MS in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Yale University (1976)
  • PhD in Chemistry. Harvard University (1979)

Research summary

The Benner group has:
  1. Initiated synthetic biology as a field. The Benner group was the first to synthesize a gene for an enzyme, and used organic synthesis to prepare the first artificial genetic systems. These systems have been used to direct the synthesis of artificial proteins having unnatural amino acids, in FDA-approved clinical assays for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C that improves the medical care of over 400,000 patients annually, and to support the first artificial chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution.
  2. Invented dynamic combinatorial chemistry, combining ideas from molecular evolution, enzymology, analytical chemistry, and organic chemistry to generate a strategy to discover small molecule therapeutic leads. A German company, Alantos, is today using this technology to develop drug leads.
  3. Established paleomolecular biology, where researchers resurrect ancestral proteins from extinct organisms for study in the laboratory, The strategy allows scientists to connect chemistry to function in biology, which is defined by an organism's fitness in a complex and changing environment.
  4. Helped found evolutionary bioinformatics, in 1991, launched one of the first web-based bioinformatics servers with Gaston Gonnet, generated the first naturally organized protein sequence databases, and helped develop the MasterCatalog that generated ca. $4 million in sales. This work also supported the first exhaustive matching of a modern protein sequence database, the first convincing tools to predict structure in proteins from sequence data, strategies to detect distant homologs using structure prediction, and "post-genomic" tools to detect changing protein function.

Awards

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow
  • Junior Fellowship, Harvard Society of Fellows
  • Dreyfus Award for Young Faculty, 1982
  • Searle Scholar, 1984-86
  • Sloan Foundation Fellow, 1984-86
  • Anniversary Prize, Federation of European Biochemical Societies, 1993
  • Nolan Summer Award, 1998
  • Arun Gunthikonda Memorial Award, 1998
  • Townes R. Leigh Commemorative Professor, 1999
  • B. R. Baker Award, 2001
  • Sigma Xi Senior Faculty Award 2005

Recent Publications

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Transcription, Reverse Transcription, and Analysis of RNA Containing Artificial Genetic Components
Nicole A. Leal, Hyo-Joong Kim, Shuichi Hoshika, Myong-Jung Kim, Matthew A. Carrigan, and Steven A. Benner
ACS Synthetic Biology , American Chemical Society (2014) doi:10.1021/sb500268n
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Ribonucleosides for an Artificially Expanded Genetic Information System
Hyo-Joong Kim, Nicole A. Leal, Shuichi Hoshika, Steven A. Benner
J. Org. Chem. (2014) 79 (7), pp 3194-3199
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OligArch: A software tool to allow artificially expanded genetic information systems (AEGIS) to guide the autonomous self-assembly of long DNA constructs from multiple DNA single strands
Kevin M. Bradley and Steven A. Benner
Beilstein J. Org. Chem. , Beilstein Institute (2014) 10, 1826-1833, doi:10.3762/bjoc.10.192
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Directed Evolution of Polymerases To Accept Nucleotides with Nonstandard Hydrogen Bond Patterns
Laos R, Shaw R, Leal NA, Gaucher E, Benner S.
Biochemistry (2013) 52, 5288-5294
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Conversion strategy using an expanded genetic alphabet to assay nucleic acids
Yang, Z., Durante, M., Glushakova, L., Sharma, N., Leal, N., Bradley, K., Chen, F., Benner, S. A.
Anal. Chem. (2013) 85(9):4705-12
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The "strong" RNA world hypothesis. Fifty years old.
Neveu, Mark; Kim, Hyo-Joong; Benner, Steven A
Astrobiology 13 (4) (2013) DOI: 10.1089/ast.2012.0868
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Models and Standards of Proof in Cross-Disciplinary Science: The Case of Arsenic DNA
Steven A. Benner, William Bains, and Sara Seager
Astrobiology 13 (5) (2013) DOI: 10.1089/ast.2012.0954

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Use of codon models in molecular dating and functional analysis
Steven A. Benner
Codon Evolution , ed. Gina M Cannarozzi, Adrian Scheider , Oxford University Press 133-144 (2012)

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Synthesis and Properties of 5-Cyano-Substituted Nucleoside Analog with a Donor-Donor-Acceptor Hydrogen-Bonding Pattern
Hyo-Joong Kim, Fei Chen, and Steven A. Benner
J. Org. Chem. (2012)
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The Natural History of Class I Primate Alcohol Dehydrogenases Includes Gene Duplication, Gene Loss, and Gene Conversion
Matthew A. Carrigan, Oleg Uryasev, Ross P. Davis, LanMin Zhai, Thomas D. Hurley, Steven A. Benner
PLOS One 7 (7) , Public Library of Science (2012)

(View all publications by Steven Benner)

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