Dr Carlos Hirschberg is Emeritus Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine. He has made many seminal contributions to the glycobiology and biochemistry of glycan synthesis as well as sugar precursor transport for more than four decades. Carlos Hirschberg received the professional degree of "Biochemist" from the University of Chile in 1965, followed by a combined Master's degree in Nutrition and Biochemistry from Rutgers University in 1966. That year he enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for doctoral training. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1970, working with Professors H.E. Carter and G.J. Schroepfer on sphingolipids. This was followed by postdoctoral training at Harvard University Medical School from 1970 to 1972 with E.P. Kennedy, and then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1972 to 1974 with P.W. Robbins. In hindsight Carlos Hirschberg´s training in these laboratories, dealing with problems in lipid synthesis, nucleotide enzymology, and glycobiology, set the stage for the work to come as an independent scientist, beginning as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1974. Hirschberg's productivity rapidly led to academic advancements, as well as appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center from 1987 to 1998, and then the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, where he organized the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and currently holds the title of Professor and was Founding Chair from 1998 until 2011.
Carlos Hirschberg has made groundbreaking scientific discoveries with enormous contributions to the fields of glycobiology and cell biology. The findings of Hirschberg and his colleagues have been fundamental toward the understanding of how the carbohydrate groups of glycoproteins, glycosaminoglycans and glycolipids are assembled and modified by sulfation and phosphorylation. Carlos Hirschberg's group is generally responsible for determining the mechanisms by which nucleotide sugars cross biological membranes, specifically in the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus. His group discovered novel transporters in the membranes of the Golgi apparatus and endoplasmic reticulum that translocate nucleotide sugars, nucleotide sulfate, and ATP in the organelle lumen where they serve as donors for modifications of membrane and secreted proteins as well as lipids. Using a combination of biochemistry and genetics, his group then purified, cloned, and elucidated the mechanisms of action of several of these multi-transmembrane spanning proteins.
Carlos Hirschberg has also always been influential in other ways over the years - mentoring students, postdocs, junior colleagues and even more senior colleagues, and by being a 'behind the scenes' proactive voice in supporting glycobiology and glycobiologists, at conferences, in discussions, and at study section meetings. He served as Chair of the 1989 Gordon Conference on Glycoproteins and Glycolipids and Chair of the Glycobiology Symposium at the ASBMB centennial meeting in 2006. In both instances he infused the programs with new faces in the field. Carlos Hirschberg also served as a member of two NIH Study Sections and as a member of the Editorial Board of several journals including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Glycobiology, and Biological Research, a publication of the Society of Biology of Chile. He was Executive Editor of Analytical Biochemistry from 1991-2002. As Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, he built a major center of glycobiology research and training.