Member Update

Mori and Walter win the 2014 Lasker Award

Kazutoshi Mori   Peter Walter  
Mori   Walter  


ASBMB members Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University in Japan and Peter Walter of the University of California, San Francisco, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute won the 2014 Lasker Award for basic medical research for their studies of the unfolded protein response. The Lasker Foundation announcement noted: “Mori and Walter's work has led to a better understanding of inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis, retinitis pigmentosa and certain elevated cholesterol conditions in which unfolded proteins overwhelm the unfolded protein response.” It continued: "So important is protein folding to biology that a previous Lasker Award recognized Ulrich Hartl and Arthur Horwich for their discovery of a molecular chaperone that helps proteins fold in the cellular cytoplasm. This year's award is given for showing how problems with a different class of proteins — membrane-bound and secretory — are dealt with. Together, the awards demonstrate the elegant and complex mechanisms that cells have evolved to cope with proteins that do not fold correctly.” Hartl and Horwich, the 2011 winners mentioned above, also are ASBMB members. Each Lasker Award category carries an honorarium of $250,000. The awards were bestowed in New York in September.

McKerrow appointed dean of UCSD pharmacy school

James H. McKerrow  

James H. McKerrow is the new dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. McKerrow, an alumnus of UCSD, earned his Ph.D. in biology in 1973, focusing on peptide chemistry and molecular genetics. He then went on to receive his M.D. from the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and completed his residency in pathology at the University of California, San Francisco. After becoming chief resident, McKerrow remained at UCSF, where he became full professor of pathology until his latest appointment. UCSD officials emphasized his expertise in neglected tropical diseases and noted that he offers the school a wealth of experience in natural product research and drug discovery and development. McKerrow has co-authored more than a dozen book chapters and has published more than 250 articles. His honors range from teaching awards spanning more than two decades at UCSF to the Gregor Mendel Honorary Medal from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the 2005 Distinguished Alumnus Award from SUNY, Stony Brook. University officials said that Mckerrow’s keen interest in global health, infectious diseases, biology and chemistry, and drug-development programs will help bring together cross-disciplinary researchers from UCSD and the community. 

Wittliff receives cancer research award

James Wittliff  

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry issued one of its major awards to James L. Wittliff. A distinguished investigator and educator, Wittliff received the Morton K. Schwartz award for his “significant contributions in cancer research diagnostics.” Wittliff is director of the Institute for Molecular Diversity and Drug Design and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. His previous research team at the University of Rochester created methods for purifying steroid hormone receptor proteins to study their relationships to human breast cancers. Wittliff was among the first investigators to discover that estrogen receptors serve as biomarkers of both a patient’s risk of recurrence of breast cancer and the likely response to hormone therapy. After his move to Louisville, his team helped establish tamoxifen as a treatment for breast cancer and the use of tissue receptor proteins as biomarkers of a patient’s prognosis and probable response to therapy. His work on the genome of breast cancer has helped improve diagnostics for the disease. 


Bailey named new dean of Mount Mary health sciences school

Cheryl Bailey  

Mount Mary University’s School of Natural and Health Sciences named Cheryl Bailey this summer as its new dean. Bailey had been a senior program officer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland. In addition, Bailey is a co-principal investigator for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Concept-Driven Teaching Strategies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology project funded by the National Science Foundation. Previously, Bailey was an associate professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and worked for two years as a senior scientist for Promega Corp. in Wisconsin. In her new leadership position, Bailey will supervise natural and health sciences programs including biology, chemistry, mathematics and undergraduate and graduate occupational therapy and dietetics. Additionally, she will help develop the school’s science curriculum and build on research opportunities for faculty and students.


Nicole ParkerNicole Parker ( joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in the Meyeroff Scholarship Program in 2007. She earned a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from UMBC and is currently completing her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where she studies the biological activity of the protein GDNF and its effect on the spermatogonial stem and progenitor cells.