2008 Rosalind Kornfeld Award goes to Nathan Sharon


The Society for Glycobiology is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2008 Rosalind Kornfeld Award is jointly awarded to Robert G. Spiro and Nathan Sharon. The Rosalind Kornfeld Award for Lifetime Achievement in Glycobiology was established in 2008 to honor the distinguished scientific career and service to the Society by Dr Rosalind Kornfeld. The award is given by the Society to scientists who have, over their professional lifetimes, made significant contributions with important impact on the field.

Nathan Sharon (Professor Emeritus, Weizmann Inst. Science) pioneered studies on glycoconjugates and lectins and made seminal contributions to glycobiology. Dr. Sharon, in collaboration with Roger Jeanloz, first reported the isolation of an unusual bacterial diamino sugar (2,4-diamino-2,4,6-trideoxy-D-glucose) which he named bacillosamine. This sugar is not made by humans and may therefore be a target for anti-bacterial drugs. He demonstrated that carbohydrates serve as markers for immune cells, demonstrating the use of lectins in fractionation of these cells into biologically distinct cell subpopulations, thus providing immunologists access to the immature thymocytes of mouse and man.  In his studies of plant lectins, he demonstrated that plants can glycosylate proteins by a pathway similar to that in animals, and was the first to show that legume lectins are members of a large family of homologous proteins. Dr. Sharon also made important contributions to the field of bacterial lectins, their roles in pathogenesis, and the use of sugars in anti-adhesion therapy of microbial diseases.  His studies provided insights into interactions between lectins and their sugar ligands at the atomic level.

Dr. Sharon's achievements are not only of fundamental importance, but also of broad significance for human health. They serve as an excellent example of the convergence between basic and applied research.  In addition to some 300 primary papers, Dr. Sharon has also published numerous widely cited and influential review articles (e.g., 3 in Ann. Rev. Biochem., 3 in Science, 5 in Scientific American). Seven of his publications have been selected as Citation Classics. He was listed among the 1000 most cited scientists in the years between 1965 and 1978 (Current Contents, Oct. 12, 1990) and was ranked 260th among "Citation Superstars 1973-1984" (The Scientist, July 6, 1990).

In addition he has recently published, together with his long time colleague Halina Lis, a second and widely expanded edition of the book Lectins, originally published in 1989. His work continues to be widely quoted, and several of his publications are on top of the citation list of all lectin papers published since 1965.

Finally, Dr. Sharon's contributions are not only to the scientific literature, but also to the often neglected but important area of communicating the importance of science to the lay public and politicians who fund our research.  For his long-lasting contributions to understanding glycoconjugates and the functions of lectins in biological systems, the Society for Glycobiology has awarded Dr. Sharon the 2008 Rosalind Kornfeld Award for Lifetime Achievement in Glycobiology.


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