Paul Schimmel is the Ernest and Jean Hahn Professor at The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. He formerly was the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the Department of Biology at MIT. His major research activities have concentrated on the decoding of genetic information, with emphasis on the rules of the universal genetic code which are established through aminoacylation reactions catalyzed by a group of enzymes known as aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. The latter are believed by many to be among the first enzymes to arise on this planet in the early stages of the evolution of life.
Schimmel is the author or co-author of more than 450 scientific papers and of a widely used three volume textbook on biophysical chemistry. He has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Institute of Medicine.
He has been active in many scientific and academic organizations and committees, including service as chairman of the Division of Biological Chemistry of the American Chemical Society and as an editorial board member of 10 different scientific journals.
Having a longstanding interest in the applications of basic biomedical research to human health, Schimmel holds several patents and is a co-founder or founding director of several biotechnology companies, of which six (Alkermes, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (sold to GlaxoSmithKline in 2008), Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Momenta Pharmaceuticals, and Repligen) are now publicly traded.