June 2, 2010 / 1:08 PM / 9 years ago

Chemist, biologist wins MIT inventor's prize

BOSTON (Reuters) - A University of California chemistry and biology professor whose research is applied widely in biotechnology became on Wednesday the first woman to win the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Prize for outstanding inventor.

Carolyn Bertozzi, 43, won the $500,000 prize, awarded annually by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Lemelson Foundation, for her work manipulating processes within living cells to engineer their surfaces and secreted proteins.

The insights gleaned by Bertozzi at the University of California at Berkeley and as director of the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience research center at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have helped efforts to diagnose and treat cancer, arthritis and tuberculosis.

The biologist holds patents including a cell nanoinjector that introduces molecules into living cells, artificial bone materials, targets for tuberculosis therapy and cell microarray platforms.

Bertozzi in 2008 founded Redwood Bioscience, which recently received a $1 million National Institutes of Health grant.

Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric Beech

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