James Paulson, professor of chemistry at Scripps Research.

Chains of sugars, known as glycans, are involved in ubiquitous biological processes, from the creation of new tissue to recruiting our immune system to help neutralize infections. Their many mysteries in health and medicine have led to the burgeoning field of glycoscience.

Recognized as one of the most influential leaders in the study of glycans, James Paulson, PhD, has been selected for the 2022 President’s Innovator Award from the Society for Glycobiology. The award acknowledges the contributions of one scientist each year for outstanding scientific innovation in the field of glycoscience that has made a significant impact on society. To mark the award, Paulson will deliver a prize lecture at this year’s Society for Glycobiology Annual Meeting.

The Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Chair of Chemistry and chair of Scripps Research’s Department of Molecular Medicine, Paulson focuses his research on the biochemistry of glycans and their role in immune cell signaling. Recent discoveries in his lab have led to a greater understanding of how glycan-binding receptor proteins on immune cells regulate immune cell responses, as well as the creation of platforms for accelerating more specific and effective methods for developing immune tolerance, treatment of autoimmune diseases, and targeting cancers, including lymphoma and leukemia. In addition to immunology, Paulson’s lab has investigated how influenza viruses adapt to glycan receptors in the airway for infection and transmission in humans, and how glycans on the HIV envelope glycoprotein help inform the design of vaccine candidates.

Paulson is the recipient of a distinguished list of awards and honors that speak to the international impact of his work. These include the ACS Melville L. Wolfrom Award, the Karl Meyer Award, the Bijvoet Medal and the United States EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Award. He is also an elected member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and served as the Chair of the ACS Carbohydrate Chemistry division in 2013-2014, and President for the Society for Glycobiology from 2002 to 2003.