The 2016 Karl Meyer Award goes to Anne Dell

Donald L. Jarvis¹
Secretary, Society for Glycobiology, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071 USA

The Society for Glycobiology is pleased to announce Dr. Anne Dell as the recipient of the 2016 Karl Meyer Lectureship Award.² The Karl Meyer Award was established in 1990 to honor the distinguished career of Karl Meyer and his outstanding contributions to the field of Glycobiology. This international award is given to well-established scientists with currently active research programs who have made widely recognized major contributions to the field of Glycobiology.

Dr. Anne Dell (Professor of Carbohydrate Biochemistry, Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London) graduated with a first class honors degree in organic chemistry from the University of Western Australia in 1971. She was awarded a scholarship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, which supported her PhD studies in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Howard Morris. This was the start of a scientific collaboration and friendship that continues to this day. It was during her PhD that Anne was first exposed to the analytical power of mass spectrometry, initially for peptides and proteins, but later for other polar biological molecules. After completing her PhD in 1975, Anne moved with Howard to Imperial College and helped him set up the first high mass biopolymer mass spectrometry laboratory in the world.

Anne's initial forays into mass spectrometry for glycopolymer analysis were stimulated in 1979 by a sabbatical visit to Imperial by Clint Ballou, Chair of Biochemistry at Berkeley. Together, they undertook pioneering work revising the structure of the 6-O-methylglucose polysaccharide of Mycobacterium smegmatis utilizing field desorption and fast-atom bombardment mass spectrometry. A few years later, her research on leukocyte glycosylation with Minoru Fukuda at the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation was fundamental to the emerging field of glycobiology, laying foundations for studies into the roles of carbohydrates in the immune system. A seminal discovery was her identification of sialyl-Lewis X on neutrophils, pivotal to defining ligands for the selectins when they were cloned in 1989. Anne's characterization of the glycoprotein hormone that controls erythropoiesis (erythropoietin) in the late 1980s was crucial for biopharmaceutical progress, as it provided the first evidence the recombinant product carried natural glycosylation and could be safely used to treat anemia. 

During the ensuing decades with the development of MALDI- and electrospray- mass spectrometry technologies, Anne devised ever more powerful methodologies, which continue to fuel international collaborations. A highlight of this research was the discovery that human sperm-egg binding is mediated by sialyl-Lewis X on the zona pellucida in collaboration with Kay-Hooi Khoo (Academia Sinica, Taipei), Gary Clark (University of Missouri) and William Yeung (University of Hong Kong). 

As highlighted above, Anne's central research philosophy has been to provide structural and glycoinformatic information underpinning worldwide collaborative research in glycobiology. As such, she has advanced glycobiology research in numerous research laboratories around the world. 

As well as being a pioneering glycobiology research scientist Anne is a tireless teacher, mentor, and advocate for glycobiology. She has supervised over forty PhDs students, of whom the vast majority have remained in scientific fields in academia, industry and medicine. In 2004 she established, and continues to head, the Glycobiology Training Research and Infrastructure Centre (GlycoTRIC) at Imperial College. Since then over 70 trainees from all over the world have attended hands-on glycomics courses and glycobiology workshops.

In 2011 Anne was President of the Society for Glycobiology and organized the highly successful annual SFG meeting in Seattle. In addition, throughout her career, Anne has diligently served and championed the field of glycobiology through numerous activities such as membership on the Steering Committee of the NIH Consortium for Functional Glycomics, UK Representative on the International Glycoconjugate Organisation (IGO) Board, Member of the External Advisory Committee for the NIH Program of Excellence in Glycosciences (CardioPEG) Johns Hopkins Department of Biological Chemistry, Chair of the 2001 Glycobiology Gordon Conference and alongside Jerry Hart, has been instrumental in establishing the Society's journal, Glycobiology, and acting as an Executive editor for the journal for 15 years.  

For her outstanding research achievements and dedication to the field of Glycobiology, Anne has previously been recognized with the Whistler Medal of the International Carbohydrate Organisation, the IGO Award of the International Glycoconjugates Society and, in the Queen's birthday honours list of 2009, she was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Anne now adds the Karl Meyer Lectureship Award from the Society for Glycobiology to her list of well-deserved honors.

¹To whom correspondence should be addressed: email [email protected].

²Stuart Haslam, Richard Steet, and Christopher West are acknowledged for their contributions to these essays.