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Kevan M. Shokat is Professor and Chair in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at University of California, San Francisco, Professor in the Department of Chemistry at University of California, Berkeley, and an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1991, under Peter G. Schultz.

Research Focus

Research in Dr. Shokat's laboratory is focused on the discovery of new chemical based tools to decipher cellular signaling networks with an emphasis on protein kinases and more recently, GTPases. The analysis of signal transduction pathways has proven challenging using the traditional tools of biochemistry, genetics, and chemistry. Biochemical approaches are often limited in utility because signaling networks span from the cell surface to the control of transcription and translation, confounding reconstitution efforts from purified proteins. Genetic approaches allow specific perturbation of single components in an intact cell or organism, yet are often confounded by the emergent properties of signaling cascades. Chemical and pharmacological approaches enable rapid, reversible, and graded (dose-dependent) inactivation of single components in intact cells or organisms. Unfortunately, highly selective chemical probes (agonists, antagonists, traceable substrates, etc.) of protein kinases are difficult to develop because the 500 protein kinases share highly homologous ATP binding pockets. His laboratory has solved this fundamental problem for the largest family of enzymes in the human genome, protein kinases, by development of a strategy based on a combination of protein engineering and organic synthesis. They have termed this approach chemical genetics.