In 2015, a generous gift from UCLA alumni Ralph and Shirley Shapiro established the Eisenberg Distinguished Lecture Series. The series honors Dr. David Eisenberg, UCLA Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, HHMI investigator, member of the National Academy of Sciences and inaugural holder of the Paul D. Boyer Professorship in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. He served as Director of the UCLA-DOE Institute for Genomics and Proteomics from 1993 to 2014. In his long and distinguished career in chemistry he has made groundbreaking discoveries, including the discovery of the hydrophobic interaction. His current research group investigates changes in protein structure and their role in the development of amyloid and prion diseases.
In 2016 the Inaugural Eisenberg Award was presented to Professor Dame Carol Robinson (pictured left), a pioneer in the use of mass spectrometry to understand protein-protein and protein-lipid interactions. Professor Robinson was the first female Professor of Chemistry at both Oxford and Cambridge universities. In 2013 she was awarded the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to science.
In 2019 the Inaugural Eisenberg Award was presented to Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan (pictures left), a Nobel Prize-winning biologist whose many scientific contributions include his work on the atomic structure of the ribosome. He determined the atomic structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit followed by structures of the entire ribosome in many different states and in complexes with several antibiotics. More recently, he has been using electron microscopy to visualise ribosomes in action in higher organisms. This work has advanced our understanding of how the ribosome works and how antibiotics inhibit it. In the past he has also worked on histone and chromatin structure, which help us to understand how DNA is organised in cells.