Mandë Holford

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Mandë Holford
Alma mater
Scientific career
ThesisSite-Specific Incorporation of Biochemical and Biophysical Probes into Proteins Using Expressed Protein Ligation (2002)
Doctoral advisorTom Muir

Mandë Holford is an Associate Professor in Chemistry at Hunter College with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medical College. Her interdisciplinary research covering 'mollusks to medicine' spans chemistry and biology and aims to discover, characterize, and deliver novel peptides from venomous marine snails as tools for manipulating cellular physiology in pain and cancer.[1][2]

Education and career[edit]

Holford received her BS in mathematics and chemistry from York College, City University of New York and her PhD in Synthetic Protein Chemistry from The Rockefeller University.[3] She did her postdoctoral research at The University of Utah in the lab of Baldomero Olivera.[4] She was also a Science & Technology Policy Fellow through the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[5] During her fellowship she worked under Kerri-Ann Jones in the National Science Foundation's Office of International Science and Engineering.


Holford summarizes her research interests as moving "from mollusks to medicine" for drug discovery and delivery.[6][7] She and her research team extract peptides from venomous snails to identify possible treatments for pain and cancer.[8] Her work takes an interdisciplinary approach, leveraging biochemistry, genomics, proteomics, evolution, and cell biology to isolate, identify, and characterize novel venomous peptides and devise drug delivery strategies.[9][10] Research projects in her lab takes advantage of inventive tools from chemistry and biology to: (1) investigate the evolution of venom in predatory marine snails, (2) discover disulfide-rich peptides from a venom source, (3) develop high-throughput methods for characterizing structure-function peptide interactions, and (4) deliver novel peptides to their site of action for therapeutic application.[1]

Science diplomacy[edit]

Holford was first trained in science diplomacy as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy fellow at the National Science Foundation.[5][11] Since that time, she has worked on several projects and initiatives to encourage early career scientists to think globally about their research impacts. These efforts include the Hurford Science Diplomacy Initiative, which is a six-week long program taught at The Rockefeller University by Jesse H. Ausubel, Rod Nichols, and Dr. Holford.[12][13] She has also worked with the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy on their programs to train scientists for global leadership and advocacy.[14]

Her writing on the importance of training young scientists to leverage their expertise to build global connections has been featured in the World Science Forum and Scientific American.[15][16] She has also written about the role scientists played in re-establishing connections with Cuba in 2015 for Science magazine.[17]

Holford is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[18]

Public engagement[edit]

Holford is actively involved in science education and is the co-founder of, a learning games company supported by the National Science Foundation and the Small Business Innovation Research Fund.[19][20] They have produced games like Killer Snails: Assassins of the Sea and Biome Builder, which won the International Serious Play Gold Medal.[21] She has also appeared on The Moth, Science Friday, NBC Learn (where she was named a 21st Century Chemist in the NBC Learn Chemistry Now series), and You're the Expert, speaking about her research expertise and her experiences as a scientist.[22][23][24][25] Holford and her lab have also participated in a NYC based program led by the non-profit organization Ligo Project called Art of Science where her and her lab collaborated with NYC based artist Jackie Lima to create new works that explore the exchange between two seemingly disparate disciplines and seeks to provide new and unique perspectives on science to the NYC community.[26]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mandë Holford, Ph.D. — Hunter College". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  2. ^ "Holford, Mande". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  3. ^ Mande, Holford (2002). Site-Specific Incorporation of Biochemical and Biophysical Probes into Proteins Using Expressed Protein Ligation (Thesis). Rockefeller University.
  4. ^ Holford, Mandë; Zhang, Min-Min; Gowd, Konkallu; Azam, Layla; Green, Brad; Watkins, Maren; Ownby, John-Paul; Yoshikami, Doju; Bulaj, Grzegorz (2008-11-01). "Pruning Nature: Biodiversity-Derived Discovery of Novel Sodium Channel Blocking Conotoxins from Conus bullatus". Toxicon. 53 (1): 90–8. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2008.10.017. PMC 2677393. PMID 18950653.
  5. ^ a b "Mande Holford". AAAS - The World's Largest General Scientific Society. 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  6. ^ Verdes, Aida; Anand, Prachi; Gorson, Juliette; Jannetti, Stephen; Kelly, Patrick; Leffler, Abba; Simpson, Danny; Ramrattan, Girish; Holford, Mandë (2016-04-19). "From Mollusks to Medicine: A Venomics Approach for the Discovery and Characterization of Therapeutics from Terebridae Peptide Toxins". Toxins. 8 (4): 117. doi:10.3390/toxins8040117. PMC 4848642. PMID 27104567.
  7. ^ Kelly, Patrick; Anand, Prachi; Uvaydov, Alexander; Chakravartula, Srinivas; Sherpa, Chhime; Pires, Elena; O’Neil, Alison; Douglas, Trevor; Holford, Mandë (2015-10-09). "Developing a Dissociative Nanocontainer for Peptide Drug Delivery". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 12 (10): 12543–12555. doi:10.3390/ijerph121012543. PMC 4626985. PMID 26473893.
  8. ^ "Prospecting for Painkillers". The Scientist. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  9. ^ Anand, Prachi; O’Neil, Alison; Lin, Emily; Douglas, Trevor; Holford, Mandë (2015-08-03). "Tailored delivery of analgesic ziconotide across a blood brain barrier model using viral nanocontainers". Scientific Reports. 5 (1): 12497. Bibcode:2015NatSR...512497A. doi:10.1038/srep12497. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 4522602. PMID 26234920.
  10. ^ Leffler, Abba E.; Kuryatov, Alexander; Zebroski, Henry A.; Powell, Susan R.; Filipenko, Petr; Hussein, Adel K.; Gorson, Juliette; Heizmann, Anna; Lyskov, Sergey (2017-09-05). "Discovery of peptide ligands through docking and virtual screening at nicotinic acetylcholine receptor homology models". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (38): E8100–E8109. doi:10.1073/pnas.1703952114. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 5617267. PMID 28874590.
  11. ^ "International Activities and the US National Science Foundation". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  12. ^ "The Rockefeller University » Science Diplomacy". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  13. ^ "The Challenge of Building Science Diplomacy Capabilities for Early Career Academic Investigators". Science & Diplomacy. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  14. ^ "Science Diplomacy and Leadership Workshop Trains Next Generation of Leaders and Advocates". AAAS - The World's Largest General Scientific Society. 2017-11-10. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  15. ^ Holford, Mande; Dalton, Gordon; Acevedo-Rocha, Carlos (2013-12-03). "Young Scientists and Social Innovators Making Science Sustainable for the Next Generation" (Data Set). Figshare. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.866820. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  16. ^ Oni, Mandë Holford,Tolu. "Diplomacy for Scientists". Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  17. ^ Holford, Mandë; Nichols, Rodney (2015-07-31). "A tale of two states". Science. 349 (6247): 455. Bibcode:2015Sci...349..455H. doi:10.1126/science.aaa9595. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 26228115.
  18. ^ "Membership Roster". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  19. ^ "NSF Award Search: Award#1445413 - I-Corps: Killer Snail: An interactive marine biodiversity learning tool". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  20. ^ "KILLER SNAILS LLC |". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  21. ^ "April 30, 2018 – Serious Play Conference". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  22. ^ World Science Festival (2016-05-11), The Moth - Mandë Holford: It's All Relative, retrieved 2018-06-17
  23. ^ "NBC Learn". NBC Learn. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  24. ^ "Mandë Holford - Science Friday". Science Friday. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  25. ^ Killer Snails, retrieved 2018-06-17
  26. ^ "Holford Lab Outreach".
  27. ^ "NSF Award Search: Award#1247550 - CAREER: Development of a teretoxin neuropeptide array for investigating neuronal circuits". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  28. ^ "Young Scientists". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  29. ^ "Mande Holford Wins Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  30. ^ "Mandë Holford". WINGS WorldQuest. Retrieved 2019-03-16.