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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Benjamin Cravatt, 31

Biotechnology

Scripps Research Institute

Chemical biologist Benjamin Cravatt is developing tools to illuminate the roles of proteins and enzymes in humans and animals. Cravatt and colleagues have synthesized dozens of fluorescent probes that chemically bind to enzymes in laboratory samples of healthy and diseased tissues, then light up when excited by a laser scanner. The technique can show which enzymes are more or less active in cancerous cells, which could herald a breakthrough for proteomics—the attempt to identify the structures and functions of human proteins. Cravatt’s protein-activity- based approach represents an advance over methods that merely infer protein function by comparing the abundance of proteins in samples. His technology also forms the basis of ActivX Biosciences in La Jolla, CA, which he cofounded in 2000 and now employs more than 40 people. Applications for the chemical probes include improving medical diagnostics, identifying new drug targets and facilitating drug tests. “Helping with the development of a single drug would be huge, ”the hyperkinetic researcher says, “but we hope to do this many times over.”

2002 TR35 Winners

Ewan Birney

Biotechnology

Fiona Brinkman

Biotechnology

Chris Burge

Biotechnology

Benjamin Cravatt

Biotechnology

Nathaniel David

Biotechnology

Susan Hagness

Medicine

Derek Hansford

Materials

J. Joseph Kim

Medicine

Steven Laken

Medicine

Kelvin Lee

Medicine

Milan Mrksich

Materials

Stephen OConnor

Biotechnology

Alexander Olek

Biotechnology

Vijay Pande

Biotechnology

Stephen Quake

Materials

David Sabatini

Biotechnology

John Santini

Medicine

David Schaffer

Medicine

Christoph Westphal

Biotechnology

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