May 23, 2003

Armstrong named editor of Biochemistry

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Armstrong named editor
of Biochemistry

Richard N. Armstrong, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry, has been named editor of Biochemistry, the preeminent journal for publishing research articles about the molecular structure, mechanisms and interactions of important biological molecules.

Biochemistry is a journal devoted to scientific papers that answer the question: “How do the molecules of life work?” Armstrong said.

As editor, Armstrong intends to preserve the “very positive attributes of Biochemistry that continue to attract outstanding authors,” he said, while expanding the journal’s coverage into the fields of genomics (information from complete genome sequences) and chemical biology (the interaction of small molecules with biological systems). “These two fields have had a profound impact on how biochemists do basic research,” said Armstrong, who will officially begin his tenure as editor on Jan. 1, 2004.

He hopes that by repositioning the journal to take advantage of emerging areas in the biochemical sciences, “the journal will enhance its leading role in the publication of cutting-edge research and remain an important asset to the scientific community and the ACS (American Chemical Society),” he said.

“This is quite a major development for a faculty member here at Vanderbilt,” said Michael R. Waterman, Ph.D., Natalie Overall Warren Distinguished Professor and Chair of Biochemistry. “The appointment automatically elevates Richard as one of the very major leaders in the field of Biochemistry.”

Armstrong will draw on his experience as one of 15 associate editors of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. He acknowledged that serving as editor of Biochemistry is “a huge responsibility,” but added that he is “looking forward to it.”

“I know that I can rely on the support of the publications division of the ACS and Vanderbilt University in setting up the editorial offices in Nashville and moving the journal forward,” he said.

Biochemistry is the largest of the ACS family of journals, considering 2,500 manuscripts and publishing 16,000 pages per year, Armstrong said. “With expanded coverage, I hope we will be able to increase the number of articles that are submitted and maintain the high scientific standards that the readers and authors have come to expect from the journal.”

Armstrong is a leading investigator in the area of mechanistic enzymology—determining how enzymes work. He has focused on the enzymes involved in metabolizing foreign molecules, such as drugs, toxins, and other chemicals. These enzymes, known as detoxication enzymes, are essential to an organism’s ability to resist chemical insults.

In bacteria, these kinds of enzymes can contribute to the ability of bacteria to become antibiotic resistant. Armstrong hopes that understanding the catalytic mechanisms and structures of these bacterial enzymes will lead to the design of new drugs to counter antibiotic resistance.

Armstrong earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Marquette University. He completed postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago and was a Staff Fellow in the Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry at the National Institutes of Health. He was on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park for 15 years before coming to Vanderbilt in 1995.

Armstrong is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chair-elect of the ACS division of Biological Chemistry. He is also a Council Member of the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics and a Councilor of the ACS.