Biochemist Joins National Academy of Sciences

Reed grad Rachel Klevit ’78 is elected to the nation’s top scientific organization.

By Chris Lydgate ’90 | April 27, 2021

Reed grad Rachel Klevit ’78, professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington, has been elected to the nation’s top scientific organization, the National Academy of Sciences, in recognition of her groundbreaking work on the structure and function of proteins, which has major implications for understanding breast cancer and neurodegenerative disease.

Prof. Klevit has been widely hailed for her work in using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to identify the structure of critical biological agents, including the Cys2-His2 zinc finger fold, found in proteins that bind to DNA, and ubiquitinization enzymes, which play a key role in breast cancer.

Being chosen for the National Academy of Sciences is a prestigious achievement reserved for the world’s most eminent researchers. Altogether the NAS has elected 22 Reedies. Reed ranks No. 12 in the nation when it comes to producing fellows in the NAS and its allied academies in medicine and engineering. Reed also ranks No. 1 in the nation in the proportion of STEM majors who go on to earn PhDs in STEM fields

Prof. Klevit earned her BA from Reed in chemistry and wrote her senior thesis on alkaline phosphatase with Prof. Will Bloch. After Reed, she won a Rhodes Scholarship (the first woman in the Pacific Northwest to do so) and went to Oxford University to earn a D. Phil in chemistry.

She has received numerous awards, including the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award from the Protein Society recognizing “exceptional contributions” in protein science for her work in NMR spectroscopy and the Fritz Lippmann Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


Tags: Academics, Alumni, Awards & Achievements, Research