Society Spotlight: The American Peptide Society

By | April 23, 2014

By Dr. Charles Deber

The American Peptide Society (APS), a nonprofit scientific and educational organization founded in 1990, provides a forum for advancing and promoting knowledge of the chemistry and biology of peptides.  The Society was the outgrowth of the American Peptide Symposium – the principal conference for peptide scientists – that has been held biennially for the past 45 years, with its inception at Yale University in 1968.  Establishment of the APS was a result of the rapid worldwide growth that occurred in peptide-related research and of the increasing interaction of peptide scientists with virtually all fields of science.

Peptides are chains of amino acid residues with remarkable biological functions, ranging from hormonal regulation to antibiotic activities. Members of the APS are involved in research in academia, industry, and government, covering all aspects of peptide chemistry, biology, and pharmaceutical science. Research topics include synthesis of biologically important targets, isolation and characterization of new products, structure-activity relationship studies, molecular diversity, de novo design, drug delivery, peptides as scaffolds and biomaterials, and the discovery of new pharmaceutical agents. The approximately 1000 APS members come from North America and from more than thirty other countries throughout the world, and reflect a wide mix of academic and industrial scientists.  The Society is pleased to feature a non-dues paying membership structure.

Peptide Science has been the official journal of APS for nearly 20 years, published by Wiley-Interscience as a section of Biopolymers, which was founded in the early 1960’s by Dr. Murray Goodman.  Currently under the able leadership of Dr. Joel Schneider, Chief of the Chemical Biology Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute, Peptide Science features original research, reviews, and topical issues on timely topics devoted to peptide structure, function, and bioactivity. In covering the full spectrum of peptide research, the journal provides a forum for publication of results that blend the sub-disciplines of the peptide sciences.

The 2013 American Peptide Symposium took place on The Big Island in Hawaii, and the Society looks forward to the 24th American Peptide Symposium, to be held June 20-25, 2015, in Orlando, Florida.  The Symposium will be co-chaired by Dr. Ved Srivastava of GlaxoSmithKline and Dr. Andrei Yudin of University of Toronto and will center on themes common to both academic and industrial domains, focusing on identifying enabling solutions to complex problems in inter-related areas of peptide science.  The Symposium is enlivened by a Young Investigators’ mini-symposium and by poster competitions.

APS presents several major awards, two of which are named in honor of Nobel Laureates in the field.  The Merrifield Award, named for Dr. R. Bruce Merrifield (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1984), the originator of solid phase peptide synthesis, recognizes the lifetime achievement of a peptide scientist whose work exemplifies the highest level of scientific creativity. The Merrifield Award is generously endowed by philanthropist Dr. Rao Makineni. The du Vigneaud Award, named for Dr. Vincent du Vigneaud (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1955), who first performed the total synthesis of the peptide hormone oxytocin, is given for outstanding achievements in peptide research.  Lectures by the award winners of these, and several other APS awards, including the Makineni Lectureship, are presented at the American Peptide Symposium.

APS is a Member of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). This affiliation with FASEB increases the visibility of APS in the biomedical research community, and has allowed the Society’s continuing participation in FASEB public affairs initiatives.  The current APS representative to FASEB’s Board of Directors is Dr. Maurice Manning, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences. J. Mark Carter, PhD, Research Chemist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service represents APS on FASEB’s Science Policy Committee.

To learn more about the American Peptide Society, visit the Society’s website.

Charles Deber, PhD, is a member of the APS Council, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto, and Senior Scientist of Molecular Structure & Function at the Research Institute within The Hospital for Sick Children.

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