Biochemist Catalyzes Multidisciplinary Biomaterials Research

It's odd to find a biochemist holding a high-ranking management position in the materials sciences division of a major national laboratory. And the team that Mark Alper has assembled at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.--consisting of organic chemists, enzymologists, chemical engineers, and even a journal editor--may seem even stranger. But in the four years since Alper founded the Enzymatic Synthesis of Materials Program at the Berkeley lab, this eclectic collection of investiga

Laurel Joyce
Feb 17, 1991
It's odd to find a biochemist holding a high-ranking management position in the materials sciences division of a major national laboratory. And the team that Mark Alper has assembled at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.--consisting of organic chemists, enzymologists, chemical engineers, and even a journal editor--may seem even stranger. But in the four years since Alper founded the Enzymatic Synthesis of Materials Program at the Berkeley lab, this eclectic collection of investigators has fused into a productive unit.

Alper's team is one of only a few groups in the United States focusing on the blending of biotechnology and materials research. They are at the forefront of a very exciting, very promising field--bioderived materials--that can have a variety of applications, including artificial skin, optics, paper production, synthetic spider silk, and custom-made polymers.

"After people started asking me, `What's a biochemist doing in a materials division?' I had to come up...

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