- Title Emeritus Professor
I arrived at BUSM as a junior faculty member in the biochemistry department in May, 1969, after four years of predoctoral training at Tufts Medical School and a subsequent three year postdoctoral experience at Harvard Medical School. My training and interests were focused on the chemical mechanisms, structures and specificity determinants of enzymes. The research I conducted during my 40 year career at BUSM was primarily concerned with those aspects of lysyl oxidase (LOX), an enzyme discovered just prior to my arrival at BUSM by investigators at the National Institute for Dental Research. LOX proved to be the critical catalyst that initiated the formation of inter- and intramolecular stabilizing crosslinkages in collagen and elastin. My laboratory established a method for the purification of LOX and subsequently characterized its catalytic mechanism and the electrostatic forces which contributed to its surprisingly broad substrate specificity that we had noted. Highly talented pre- and postdoctoral members of my lab cloned and thereby determined the amino acid sequence of LOX; discovered and analyzed the mechanisms whereby a variety of small organic molecules strongly inhibited this enzyme, one class of which was selected for patent protection as an anti-fibrotic agent; characterized the regulation of LOX by growth factors and other effectors; and found that LOX was a highly potent chemokine, strongly attracting vascular smooth muscle cell and other cell types as it oxidized growth factor receptors on the surface of those cells. The sequence of LOX which we had published proved to be critical to the later discovery by investigators at the Armed Forces Medical School in Bethesda that a newly found gene product that repressed of RAS-mediated carcinogenic transformation of fibroblasts was, surprisingly, lysyl oxidase. All of these studies were generously and continuously supported by several NIH grants, one of which was awarded as a distinguished MERIT award.
While I began my stay at BUSM as an Assistant Research Professor, my status was changed to the Associate Professor level In 1972 and approximately five years later, to full Professor of Biochemistry.
I also served as the Chair of two different Gordon Conferences and as invited speaker at several academic and industrial institutions, nationally and internationally. I am grateful to BUSM and, especially, to the Department of Biochemistry, for the strong support given to me and the many friendships that my experience there provided.
Herbert M. Kagan, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry