Stephen Kent (chemist)

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Stephen B. H. Kent (December 12, 1945 in Wellington, New Zealand) is a chemistry professor at the University of Chicago and while professor at the Scripps Research Institute in the early 1990s was the inventor of native chemical ligation along with his student Philip Dawson .[1][2] He also demonstrated the principle that mirror-image amino acids put together to form a protein create a mirror-image protein which, if an enzyme, can catalyze the mirror-image reaction.[3] At the University of Chicago he and his junior colleagues pioneered the study of proteins by racemic crystallography.[4]


Dr. Kent was awarded a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975. He obtained his M.Sc. at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand in 1970, and a B.Sc. degree in 1968 from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Following his post-doctoral work in the laboratory of Robert Bruce Merrifield at Rockefeller University, Dr. Kent continued research there as an assistant professor until 1981. He has also held faculty positions at the California Institute of Technology, Bond University in Australia, and the Scripps Research Institute in California. Currently Dr. Kent is a Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago. He also served as the Director of the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics from 2003-2009. In addition to his academic achievements, in the 1990s he was the founder of two San Francisco Bay Area companies: Ciphergen Biosytems and Gryphon Sciences.

Dr. Kent has received numerous awards for his outstanding research. He was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2000. He also received the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in 1994, the Kaiser Award from the Protein Society in 2002, and the 2009 Merrifield award from the American Peptide Society.

In May 2016 Journal of Peptide Science, edited by Luis Moroder, published a Festschrift in celebration of his 70th birthday.[2]


  1. ^ Synthesis of native proteins by chemical ligation. Dawson PE, Kent SB. Annu Rev Biochem. 2000;69:923-60.
  2. ^ a b Moroder, Luis; Diederichsen, Ulf (May 2016). "Editorial: A Tribute to Stephen B. H. Kent: Towards a new world of proteins enabled by chemical synthesis". Journal of Peptide Science. 22 (5): 245–245. doi:10.1002/psc.2892. 
  3. ^ Total chemical synthesis of a D-enzyme: the enantiomers of HIV-1 protease show reciprocal chiral substrate specificity [corrected]. Milton RC, Milton SC, Kent SB. Science. 1992 Jun 5;256(5062):1445-8
  4. ^ Chemical synthesis and X-ray structure of a heterochiral {D-protein antagonist plus vascular endothelial growth factor} protein complex by racemic crystallography. Mandal K, Uppalapati M, Ault-Riché D, Kenney J, Lowitz J, Sidhu SS, Kent SB. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Sep 11;109(37):14779-84.

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