Keriann M. Backus

615 Charles E. Young Drive South
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Position Titles

Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biological Chemistry
Member, Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology GPB Home Area


Keriann M. Backus, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Biological Chemistry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA. Dr. Backus received her B.S. in Chemistry and B.A. in Latin American Studies from Brown University in 2007. She conducted undergraduate research in inorganic chemistry at Brown in the laboratory of Amit Basu on the synthesis and characterization of metal coordinating 1,2,3-triazoles. As part of her undergraduate education, she also conducted research in the laboratory of Tarun Kapoor at Rockefeller University. As a 2007 Rhodes Scholar and an NIH Oxford Cambridge Scholar, her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry was conducted jointly in the laboratories of Benjamin Davis (Oxford) and Clifton Barry (NIH, NIAID). Her doctoral research focused on the synthesis and application of trehalose-based chemical probes to label and image Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In 2012 Dr. Backus completed her doctorate and began an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at The Scripps Research Institute in the laboratory of Benjamin Cravatt. At TSRI she developed chemical proteomics platforms to conduct covalent fragment-based screening at cysteine and lysine residues proteome-wide. In the area of chemical biology, her research combines chemical probe synthesis with activity based protein profiling and chemical proteomics to develop chemical tools to manipulate the human immune system.

Department Affiliations

Awards & Honors

2020       Packard Fellowship
2019       Alexander and Renee Kolin Endowed Professorship
2019       V Scholar Research Award
2019       DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA)
2019       Beckman Young Investigator Award
2014       TSRI Society of Fellows Travel Award
2013       Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award
2009       Pfizer Bioorganic Gordon Conference Outstanding Poster Prize
2007       Rhodes Scholarship
2007       Magna Cum Laude
2007       Phi Beta Kappa
2007       USA Today Academic All-Star
2007       NIH Oxford Cambridge Scholars Program
2007       Best Senior Chemistry Thesis
2003       National Merit Scholar