Bert and Natalie Vallee Award in Biomedical Science

Gottesman recognized for his accomplishments
in multidrug resistance in cancer

Michael M. Gottesman

I am deeply honored to be the first recipient of the Bert and Natalie Vallee Award in Biomedical Science. Bert Vallee was a pioneer in metalloenzyme characterization and a mentor to many successful scientists. Through their foundation, he and his wife Natalie (Kuggie) were generous supporters of innovative and interactive science and scientists.

—MICHAEL M. GOTTESMAN

Michael M. Gottesman, deputy director for intramural research at the National Institutes for Health, is the inaugural winner of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Bert and Natalie Vallee Award in Biomedical Science.
 
The award was established by the Bert and N. Kuggie Vallee Foundation in 2012 to recognize established scientists with outstanding accomplishments in basic biomedical research. Gottesman’s research focuses primarily on multidrug resistance in cancer, which is the main impediment to successful chemotherapy.
 
Lawrence E. Samelson at the National Cancer Institute, who nominated Gottesman for the award, says: “For nearly three decades, Dr. Gottesman has made seminal contributions to the understanding of multidrug resistance in cancer cells, through the use of a variety of approaches and techniques involving biochemistry, cell biology and molecular genetics. (His) work has resulted in a new field of study of ATP-dependent transporters, has advanced the field of molecular diagnosis of multidrug resistance, has contributed to a new understanding of the pharmacokinetics of most drugs in common use, and promises to lead to new approaches to the treatment of drug-resistant cancers.”
 
Gottesman and co-workers cloned the gene encoding the first-known mammalian ATP-dependent transporter and described the mechanism by which it confers multidrug resistance. He was first to propose that multidrug transporters recognize substrates while in the plasma membrane and expel them from the cell.
 
Harold Varmus, who as NIH director recruited Gottesman to head up the intramural research program, says that he knew at the time of Gottesman’s integrity, scholarship and reputation but that he was “astounded by the quality of his leadership, the soundness of his judgments and the energies he brought to the task of running the (intramural program) in the more than 20 years since then.”
 
Gottesman’s concern and impact on trainees also makes him a suitable candidate for this award, says Samelson, chief of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology at the Center for Cancer Research. Echoing that sentiment, Paul A. Insel at the University of California, San Diego, says: “Michael has been a leader in education and the training of scientists: For example, he established the Undergraduate Scholarship Program, the NIH Academy, and the Clinical Research Training Program. He has consistently been a voice for data-driven studies that influence the research and training environments in biomedical science in the U.S.”
 
Insel also noted that Gottesman also has had many editorial responsibilities for The Journal of Cell Biology, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and Molecular Pharmacology and has still maintained a very active and successful research program.
 
“Michael has been a star for his entire career,” says Insel.
 
Gottesman graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor’s in biochemical sciences and then earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, where he trained in Bert Vallee’s laboratory. After completing his residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, he completed a postdoctoral stint studying molecular genetics with Martin Gellert at the NIH, became a faculty member at Harvard and then returned to the NIH, where he has held several positions since. Today, in addition to serving as deputy director for intramural research, he heads up the Laboratory of Cell Biology at the National Cancer Institute.
 
Gottesman will receive his award during the Experimental Biology 2014 conference in San Diego, where he will deliver an award lecture. The presentation will take place at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, April 27, in Room 6A of the San Diego Convention Center.

Natalie OsayandeNatalie Osayande (natalie.osayande@spartans.ut.edu) is an undergraduate at the University of Tampa studying biochemistry.

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