Joan S. Valentine was born in Auburn, California in 1945. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1967 with an AB in Chemistry. She received her PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from Princeton University in 1971. After a year as an Instructor at Princeton, she was appointed Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Rutgers University in New Brunswick in 1972. In 1980, she moved to UCLA, where she is now Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In addition to her research and teaching activities at UCLA, Professor Valentine served as Associate Editor of the journal Inorganic Chemistry from 1989 to 1995 and has served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Accounts of Chemical Research since September 1994. Dr. Valentine serves on the Program Committee for the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowships in Chemistry, the Board of Trustees of the Gordon Research Conferences, and has recently completed several years of service on the Literature Selection Technical Review Committee of the National Library of Medicine.
The research program in Professor Valentine's laboratory has focused on the role of metal ions in biological oxidation and in naturally-occurring biological antioxidant systems. It has had three central themes: (1) studies of isolated copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD) proteins, (2) biological studies of CuZnSOD in vivo, and (3) coordination complexes as models for catalysts involved in biological oxidation. Since the 1970's, her laboratory has played a major role in characterizing the properties of CuZnSOD and in the last few years has broadened to include studies of the role of mutations in CuZnSOD in causing familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease).