JoAnne Stubbe is an American chemist best known for her work on ribonucleotide reductases, for which she was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2009. She is the Novartis Professor of Chemistry & Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Born in Champaign, Ill., Stubbe received a BS degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. After she received PhD degree in organic chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971, Stubbe taught at Williams College (1972-1977) and the Yale School of Medicine (1977-1980) and held postdoctoral research positions at the University of California, Los Angeles (1971-1972) and Brandeis University (1975-1977).
In 1987, Stubbe became a professor in the MIT Chemistry Department, where she became the first woman to receive tenure in that department. She received a joint appointment in the MIT Biology Department in 1990.
Stubbe pioneered the use of spectroscopic investigations of enzyme interactions and has devoted most of her career to elucidating the biochemical mechanisms behind free radicals. In her early work at Yale and then at the University of Wisconsin, Stubbe discovered how enzymes called ribonucleotide reductases use free-radical chemistry to convert nucleotides into deoxynucleotides, an essential process in DNA repair and replication. Her analysis of the nucleotide reduction process led to a number of applications, including the anti-cancer drug gemcitabine, which is used to treat various carcinomas, such as pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer.
Stubbe, in collaboration with John Kozarich, also elucidated the structure and function of bleomycin, an antibiotic that is commonly used to treat cancer. They discovered how bleomycin induces DNA strand breaks in tumor cells, which in turn induces apoptosis.
In her current research, Stubbe continues to study the function of ribonucleotide reductases and the mechanisms of clinically useful drugs. She has also extended her research into polyhydroxybutyrates, a class of biodegradable polymers that can be synthesized by bacteria under certain conditions and then converted into plastics.
Awards and honors
- 1991 Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- 1992 Member, United States National Academy of Sciences (Biochemistry section)
- 1992 Myron L. Bender and Muriel S. Bender Distinguished Summer Lecturer, Northwestern University
- 1993 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society
- 1998 Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or Bioorganic Chemistry of the American Chemical Society
- 1998 F.A. Cotton Medal for Excellence in Chemical Research of the American Chemical Society
- 2004 Member, American Philosophical Society
- 2009 American Chemical Society's Nakanishi Prize for identifying the role of radical intermediates in ribonucleotide reductase functions.
- 2009 National Medal of Science "for her groundbreaking experiments establishing the mechanisms of ribonucleotide reductases, polyester synthases, and natural product DNA cleavers — compelling demonstrations of the power of chemical investigations to solve problems in biology." 
- 2009 Prelog Medal, Laboratory of Organic Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
- 2010 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry of The Franklin Institute for uncovering the intricate processes by which cells safely use free radicals, for developing new cancer treatments, and for improving the production of environmentally-friendly polymers.
- 2010 Welch Award for "fundamental research in biochemistry and enzymology."
- "Stubbe wins faculty’s Killian Award". MIT News. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
- "Nakanishi Prize", Chemical & Engineering News, 9 February 2009: 41–42
- "Making Life Possible | The Scientist Magazine®". The Scientist. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
- "JoAnne Stubbe Research Group - MIT". web.mit.edu. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
- "Academy of Arts & Sciences Website Search". www.amacad.org. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
- "Eight Faculty Elected to NAS". MIT News. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
- "Awards and Honors". MIT News. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
- Biochemist JoAnne Stubbe wins National Medal of Science - MIT News Office
- "JoAnne Stubbe Wins Prelog Medal | March 1, 2010 Issue - Vol. 88 Issue 9 | Chemical & Engineering News". cen.acs.org. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
- Franklin Institute Laureate Page for JoAnne Stubbe
- Welch Award Listing of Recipients
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