Assistant chemistry professor Jeffrey Bode recently received a $625,000 research grant for his past and future work on amino acids.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation recognized Bode as a recipient of one of their 20 annual research fellowships for outstanding and original contributions to the fields of science and engineering. His work primarily focuses on developing new chemical reactions by combining amino acids to form peptides and proteins.

According to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation website, presidents of 50 universities nominated roughly 100 possible fellows. A Fellowship Advisory Panel reviewed the nominations and recommended 20 fellows for approval by the Packard Foundation Board of Trustees.

Professor Bode credits the productivity and creativity of his research program as the reason he was selected.

“[I have a] research program that is different and challenges existing paradigms,” Bode said. “[The Foundation] is looking for people who will continue to be productive in the future. It is not an award for past achievement but for helping with future research.”

Bode said his amino acid research involves a new method of making proteins with different chemical reactions. Researchers are able to create the reactions in water with the new method.

Bode said his research has many possibilities for practical application in the future, specifically in the fields of medicine and plastic surgery.

“Our research on the development of amino bonds in proteins can have a major impact on the development of peptide-based drugs,” Bode said. “It can also be used in the development of biomaterial that can have important medical uses such as the development of artificial skin.”

This research is also raising new questions about the origins of life, as it shows other possible chemical reactions to create organic matter.

“This new reaction can be used to re-examine the origins of proteins because it looks at the way amino acid bonds were formed differently,” Bode said.

Professor Alec Wodtke, chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Dept., said he is very proud of professor Bode’s achievement.

“Jeff Bode is the best young chemist in the country,” Wodtke Said. “He has done more in his three years at UCSB than most can do in over six years. He is opening the doors to biochemistry.”

In addition to winning the Packard Fellowship, Bode has also recently been recognized as a Scholar, won the Beckman Young Investigator award and had his research featured in C&E News and Technology Report magazine.