Szostak, Jack

Phone: 617-726-5981


Dr. Szostak is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (Faculty of Arts and Sciences) at Harvard University and the Alex Rich Distinguished Investigator in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

His current research interests are in the laboratory synthesis of self-replicating systems and the origin of life. He and his colleagues have developed in vitro selection as a tool for the isolation of rare functional RNA, DNA and protein molecules from large pools of random sequences. His laboratory has used in vitro selection and directed evolution to isolate and characterize numerous nucleic acid sequences with specific ligand binding and catalytic properties.

For this work, Dr. Szostak was awarded, along with Dr. Gerald Joyce, the 1994 National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology and the 1997 Sigrist Prize from the University of Bern. Dr. Szostak is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2000, Dr. Szostak was awarded the Medal of the Genetics Society of America. Dr. Szostak has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his original contributions to our understanding of the processes of life and of disease.

Selected Publications (from total of 239)


Szostak JW
The Narrow Road to the Deep Past.
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017;:ePub - PMID: 28514493
Li L, Prywes N, Tam CP, O'Flaherty DK, Lelyveld VS, Izgu EC, Pal A, Szostak JW
Enhanced Nonenzymatic RNA Copying with 2-Aminoimidazole Activated Nucleotides.
J Am Chem Soc. 2017;139(5):1810-1813 - PMID: 28117989
Tam CP, Fahrenbach AC, Björkbom A, Prywes N, Izgu EC, Szostak JW
Downstream Oligonucleotides Strongly Enhance the Affinity of GMP to RNA Primer-Template Complexes.
J Am Chem Soc. 2017;139(2):571-574 - PMID: 28055190
Izgu EC, Björkbom A, Kamat NP, Lelyveld VS, Zhang W, Jia TZ, Szostak JW
N-Carboxyanhydride-Mediated Fatty Acylation of Amino Acids and Peptides for Functionalization of Protocell Membranes.
J Am Chem Soc. 2016;138(51):16669-16676 - PMID: 27959544
Zhang W, Tam CP, Wang J, Szostak JW
Unusual Base-Pairing Interactions in Monomer-Template Complexes.
ACS Cent Sci. 2016;2(12):916-926 - PMID: 28058281 - PMCID: PMC5200924
Pal A, Das RS, Zhang W, Lang M, McLaughlin LW, Szostak JW
Effect of terminal 3'-hydroxymethyl modification of an RNA primer on nonenzymatic primer extension.
Chem Commun (Camb). 2016;52(80):11905-11907 - PMID: 27722518
Szostak JW
On the origin of life.
Medicina (B Aires). 2016;76(4):199-203 - PMID: 27576276
Walton T, Szostak JW
A highly reactive imidazolium-bridged dinucleotide intermediate in nonenzymatic RNA primer extension.
J Am Chem Soc. 2016;138(36):11996-2002 - PMID: 27552367
Prywes N, Blain JC, Del Frate F, Szostak JW
Nonenzymatic copying of RNA templates containing all four letters is catalyzed by activated oligonucleotides.
Elife. 2016;5:ePub - PMID: 27351102 - PMCID: PMC4959843
Jia TZ, Fahrenbach AC, Kamat NP, Adamala KP, Szostak JW
Oligoarginine peptides slow strand annealing and assist non-enzymatic RNA replication.
Nat Chem. 2016;8(10):915-21 - PMID: 27657866 - PMCID: PMC5061144
Prywes N, Michaels YS, Pal A, Oh SS, Szostak JW
Thiolated uridine substrates and templates improve the rate and fidelity of ribozyme-catalyzed RNA copying.
Chem Commun (Camb). 2016;52(39):6529-32 - PMID: 27109314
Adamala KP, Engelhart AE, Szostak JW
Collaboration between primitive cell membranes and soluble catalysts.
Nat Commun. 2016;7:11041 - PMID: 26996603 - PMCID: PMC4802160
Li L, Lelyveld VS, Prywes N, Szostak JW
Experimental and computational evidence for a loose transition state in phosphoroimidazolide hydrolysis.
J Am Chem Soc. 2016;138(12):3986-3989 - PMID: 26974265
Engelhart AE, Adamala KP, Szostak JW
A simple physical mechanism enables homeostasis in primitive cells.
Nat Chem. 2016;8(5):448-53 - PMID: 27102678 - PMCID: PMC4929987
Izgu EC, Oh SS, Szostak JW
Synthesis of activated 3'-amino-3'-deoxy-2-thio-thymidine, a superior substrate for the nonenzymatic copying of nucleic acid templates.
Chem Commun (Camb). 2016;52(18):3684-6 - PMID: 26857159