Franklin Leach

Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award 2012
Robert C. Anderson Memorial Award 2012

Franklin Leach, a recent doctoral graduate in chemistry, developed and refined new mass spectrometry methods for the structural characterization of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) carbohydrates, a particularly difficult target for such analysis. These biomolecule chains exist on the surfaces of most cells, and the pattern contained within each chain, in particular that of sulfation, determines how individual cells interact with each other and the outside world. One of Leach’s papers reports the first ever complete sequencing of intact glycosaminoglycan chains derived from a proteoglycan, and the unexpected finding of a well-defined pattern of sulfation within the glycan chains, which supports the existence of a sulfation code for cellular communication. Leach is author or co-author of 13 papers and two book chapters. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where he is working on the design and construction of a next generation mass spectrometer.