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Basel Karim Named Recipient of Peter Craig Breen Memorial Award

30 April 2021
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Basel Karim

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that graduating chemistry major Basel Karim is the winner of the 2021 Peter Craig Breen Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Chemistry Research.

This award was created in memory of Peter Breen to recognize a Penn State undergraduate chemistry major who has achieved excellence in academics and research.  Breen was an undergraduate chemistry major and a Schreyer Honors College student. He exemplified excellence in academics and research. Breen passed away in 2014; the Breen family generously established this award in his memory.

Karim has been conducting research with the Zhang group—led by Paul Berg Early Career Professor of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Xin Zhang—for the past four years. His work focuses on developing a biochemical assay that will detect protein aggregation, a biological phenomenon in which mis-folded proteins aggregate either intra or extracellularly.   Many neurodegenerative diseases are related to the misfolding of proteins.  Karim and other members of the Zhang lab have discovered several literature compounds that have the ideal fluorogenic properties needed to detect protein aggregation.

As well as studying chemistry, Karim also majored in biochemistry and molecular biology and minored in both mathematics and microbiology. He also earned the George G. Pond Scholarship, Benkovic Summer Undergraduate Research Award, CSL Behring Biotechnology Scholarship, Erickson Discovery Grant, and Eberly College of Science Research Grant during his time at Penn State. 

After graduation, Karim will be working at Pfizer in their summer worker program as a post-baccalaureate intern under a vaccine project manager. From there, he plans to attend Stanford University, where he will be working towards a PhD in chemical biology. In graduate school, he hopes to delve into the field of medicinal chemistry for small-molecule drug development against disease and pathogens.