Carolyn Bertozzi

American chemist (born 1966)

Carolyn Ruth Bertozzi (born October 10, 1966) is an American chemist and Nobel laureate, known for her wide-ranging work spanning both chemistry and biology. She coined the term "bioorthogonal chemistry" for chemical reactions compatible with living systems. Her recent efforts include synthesis of chemical tools to study cell surface sugars called glycans and how they affect diseases such as cancer, inflammation, and viral infections like COVID-19. At Stanford University, she holds the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professorship in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Bertozzi is also an Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and is the former Director of the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience research center at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Carolyn Bertozzi in 2022


  • The early composition of my lab at Berkeley, in fact really the core people that did the work that the Nobel Foundation has recognized me for, if you look at that group of people they are far more diverse than certainly at that time you would see in the average chemistry laboratory. I had a preponderance of female grad students at a time when our representation in the graduate program at Berkeley was maybe 30%, but my lab was over half. I had people from different backgrounds, people who identify as underrepresented minorities, and I think that diversity of people created an environment where we felt we didn't have to play by the same old rules as scientists. We could do things like organic chemistry in living animals. Why not? Right? We didn't have to play by the rules. If there weren't the right chemistries to get the job done, we could invent new chemistries. Why not? We didn't have to play by the rules. And I think that culture, it kind of grew organically, no pun intended, without a whole lot of steering by myself. I was very fortunate that I could actually play a supportive role in my lab and let that diverse group of students find their voice, realize their curiosity, break the rules, and do something that 25 years later some people found impactful. And I owe them a great debt of gratitude.
  • Okay so Adam is there anything, do I have action items here?
    • Carolyn Bertozzi, signing off her first Nobel Prize interview, in the middle of the night on a cellphone, with the true unbreakable habits of an experienced & highly accomplished academic. The response: "You can relax and just enjoy the the show"
Wikipedia has an article about: