PROFESSOR DR. ANNE IMBERTY WINS 2022 ROSALIND KORNFELD AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN GLYCOBIOLOGY
The Rosalind Kornfeld Award for Lifetime Achievement in Glycobiology was established in 2008 to honor the distinguished scientific career of Dr. Rosalind Kornfeld, as well as her outstanding service to the Society. This award is given by the Society to scientists who have, over their professional lifetimes, made significant contributions with important impact on the field and is presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society. In 2021, the society honored two colleagues with this prestigious award.
Dr. Anne Imberty is a senior researcher at and former Director of the Centre de Recherche sur les Macromolécules Végétales (CERMAV) in Grenoble and
founder of the Glyco@Alps network. From the start of her career, Dr. Imberty has had a strong impact on the field of glycobiology. As a graduate student she solved the structures of the crystalline parts of starch granules, proposing a three-dimensional arrangement of amylose and amylopectin constituents. These results still serve as a notable reference in our field. She earned her doctorate at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Grenoble in 1988. Through post-doctoral positions in Toronto, Nantes and Grenoble in the 1990s she widened her repertoire of 3D glycan structures to include N-linked glycans and blood group antigens among others. These studies led naturally to an interest in the structural biology of glycan-protein interactions, particularly lectins, and in 1999 Dr. Imberty became head of the Molecular Glycobiology group at CERMAV in Grenoble where she was the Director from 2016-2020.
Anne’s impact can be seen through two major contributions, her seminal work on soluble calcium-dependent bacterial lectins and their interactions with glycan ligands and methodology development for structural glycobiology. Her work characterizing such lectins in the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a strong example of the importance of her discoveries. These lectins have an important role in infection in cystic fibrosis patients. Her work stimulated several teams of synthetic carbohydrate chemists to develop carbohydrate-based anti-infective therapeutic directed against these lectins.
Anne developed the strategy, commonly used now, of integrating information from biochemical techniques (microcalorimetry, surface plasmon resonance, microarrays, mutational analysis) with crystallographic data to gain a more thorough understanding of lectin-glycan interfaces and has been particularly influential in the drive to make results of structural determinations for carbohydrates readily available to the research community. These methodological innovations have been critical in advancing the field of structural glycobiology, which has been hampered by a lack of the tools that peptide
and protein researchers take for granted in the field of molecular modelling and methods for structural determination. In addition, Anne has created several important scientific resources for glycobiologists. These include, with Dr. Frederique Lisacek, UniLectin3D (https://www.unilectin.eu/), a database of structures of glycan binding proteins and LectomeXplore, which enables prediction of lectins in all species, including the micro-organisms that make up the human microbiome. In addition, Anne has supported the traditional modes of data distribution by her involvement in the Society’s Publication Committee and as an editor of Glycobiology.
In 2014, Anne was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for her scientific work. She has also received numerous awards, including the Catalán-Sabatier International Prize by the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry (2020), and the Roy L. Whistler Award by the International Carbohydrate Organization (2004).
Dr. Imberty is a true leader and pioneer in glycobiology, and a very deserving recipient of the 2022 Rosalind Kornfeld award.