Michael H Gelb

Dr. Michael H. Gelb

Professor of Chemistry, Boris and Barbara L. Weinstein Endowed Chair in Chemistry, Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry

Ph.D. Yale University, 1982
(Chemical Biology, Biochemistry, Bioanalytical Chemistry)
Phone: (206) 543-7142
Email: gelb@uw.edu

History and Research Interests

The Gelb group combines chemical and molecular and cellular biochemistry techniques to study enzymatic process of medical importance.
Michael H. Gelb studied chemistry and biochemistry as an undergraduate at the University of California at Davis. His Ph.D. studies with Stephen G. Sligar at Yale University led to a better understanding of the catalytic mechanism of cytochrome P450. As an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of the late Robert H. Abeles at Brandeis University, Gelb studied a variety of mechanism-based inactivators of serine proteases and developed fluorinated ketones as tight-binding inhibitors of several classes of proteases. In 1985 Gelb became a faculty member in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Washington. Major breakthroughs in the group include the development of methods to properly analyze the action of enzymes on membrane surfaces, the discovery of protein prenylation (farnesylation and geranylgeranylation) in mammalian cells (together with John A. Glomset), the development of Isotope-Coded Affinity Tags (ICAT reagents) for proteomic applications (together with Ruedi Aebersold), and the development of worldwide newborn screening for lysosomal storage diseases.
His current research is in the following areas at the interface of chemistry and biology:

  • Newborn screening technology for inborn errors of metabolism
  • Development of drugs to treat parasitic diseases

He is the Boris and Barbara L. Weinstein Endowed Chair in Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington.

Professional Activty

His newborn screening technology is being commercially developed by Perkin Elmer. An FDA-approved assay kit has been developed and went on the market in 2016.
More than 40 new patents in the past 5 years on newborn screening technology.

2002-2006 NIH Physical Biochemistry Study Section Member
2001-2006 Editorial Advisory Board: Journal of Biological Chemistry
2000 Chair, American Chemical Society Div. of Biological Chemistry Nominating Committee
2000 NIH Bioorganic and Natural Products Study Section Member
1996-2000 NIH Biochemistry Study Section Member
1998 Editorial Board: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
1997 Co-Chair, Gordon Research Conference, Co-Enzymes and Metabolic Pathways
1997 NIH Physical Biochemistry Study Section Member
1991-Present Co-Organizer, Volcano Conference in Bioorganic Chemistry
1989 NIH Pharmacology Study Section Member

Awards and Honors


Current Scientific Advisory Boards and Consultantships:
Biomarin, Ultrageneyx Corp, PerkinElmer Corp, PassageBio, Denali

Gelb’s pastimes include Surfing and playing classical guitar.

Dr. Gelb's PastimesArrow
Please feel free to contact Professor Gelb if you have any questions about the program or if you want to discuss research areas in more detail.