Karen N. Allen
received her B.S. degree in Biology, cum laude from Tufts University and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Brandeis University, where she was a Dretzin scholar. Her graduate studies in the laboratory of the mechanistic enzymologist, Dr. Robert H. Abeles, focused on the design, synthesis, and inhibition kinetics of transition-state analogues of esterases. Following her desire to see enzymes in action she pursued X-ray crystallography during postdoctoral studies as an American Cancer Society Fellow in the laboratory of Drs. Gregory A. Petsko and Dagmar Ringe. Since 1993 she has lead her own research team at Boston University, first in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the School of Medicine, and since 2008 in the Department of Chemistry where she is now a Professor and Department Chair.
She is also a Professor of Material Science and Engineering and is on the faculty of both the Bioinformatics and Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Allen's research has focused on the elucidation of enzyme mechanisms and the understanding of how Nature has evolved new chemistries from existing protein scaffolds. Within this context, her laboratory has plumbed the basis of enzyme-mediated phosphoryl transfer, phosphoglycosyl transfer and decarboxylation reactions. Her work is published in > 125 peer-reviewed articles. In addition, Dr. Allen has sought to provide new tools for the exploration of protein structure and function by the invention and implementation of lanthanide binding tags. Recently, she has sought to understand the physicochemical basis of protein-protein binding interactions.
Dr. Allen's students and postdoctoral researchers have gone on to research positions in structural genomics institutes such as RIKEN, Japan and drug discovery companies including AstraZeneca and Novartis as well as in the academic arena as independent investigators. She is Associate Editor of the Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry and has served on both NIH and NSF study sections as a regular panel member. Dr. Allen is an ASBMB Fellow and has served on Council and as Secretary-Elect of the ASBMB and as Program chair and as councilor for the Biological Chemistry Division of the ACS. Dr. Allen has been a named lecturer and seminar speaker on over one-hundred occasions and has chaired a number of national and international meetings.