MacArthur Fellows Program

Laura L. Kiessling

Biochemist | Class of 1999

Madison, Wisconsin
39 at time of award
Published July 1, 1999

About Laura's Work

Laura Kiessling is a biochemist who has developed innovative, organic syntheses that expand our capacity to control inflammation.

Kiessling has designed compounds that can aggregate specific inflammation-mediating proteins, causing them to shed from the cell surface. She focuses on the activity of a family of carbohydrate-binding proteins known as selectins. These proteins, expressed on the surface of certain cells, play a key role in the recognition and elimination of foreign bodies and metastatic proliferation. She investigates how modification of sulfated, carbohydrate structures affects binding to selectins, employing ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) to test the ability of several different neoglycopolymers to inhibit binding to some selectins. This experimental strategy facilitates further investigation into immunologic processes and provides the groundwork for the future development of drugs for treating conditions such as cancer or Alzheimer's disease.


Kiessling is a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she also serves as the director of the Keck Center for Chemical Genomics.

Kiessling received a B.S. (1983) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Ph.D. (1989) from Yale University, and pursued postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology.

Last updated January 1, 2005

Select News Coverage of Laura L. Kiessling
July 17, 2015
"Protein Might Hold Clue to Fighting Infections"
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Laura L. Kiessling , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
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