Member news

Alberts, Klinman win National Medal of Science

Alberts Klinman

Two American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members – Bruce Alberts of the University of California, San Francisco, and Judith P. Klinman of the University of California, Berkeley – won the National Medal of Science. President Obama made the announcement in early October. Alberts and Klinman will receive the medals during a ceremony at the White House later this year. The annual National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. A committee of presidential appointees nominates candidates for the medal, which recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.

Charpentier, Doudna receive the Paul Janssen award

Charpentier Doudna

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson this summer named two ASBMB members the winners of its annual Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research. The company honored Emmanuelle Charpentier of Hannover Medical School and Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, for their work with CRISPR/Cas system for gene editing. “The transformational research by Drs. Doudna and Charpentier has uncovered molecular details of an amazing bacterial immunity mechanism. Their findings enable dramatic improvements in the speed, efficiency and flexibility of genome editing,” Craig Mello, chairman of the award’s independent selection committee, said. “It is widely applicable in biomedical research and its practical applications extend to engineering the genes of plants and animals.” Charpentier and Doudna received the award in September and will share the $100,000 prize. For more on Dounda, see our August cover story. Charpentier image credit: Humboldt-Stiftung/Sven Müller

Schnell to lead Society for Mathematical Biology


Santiago Schnell of the University of Michigan Medical School will be the next president of the Society for Mathematical Biology. He will take the helm in July. Schnell, whose research focuses on chemical kinetics to combat protein-aggregation diseases, is director of the in-silico protein analysis module at the university’s Protein Folding Disease Initiative, co-director of the university’s Systems and Integrative Biology Training Grant and a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and serves on multiple editorial boards.

Shilatifard named department chairman at Northwestern


Ali Shilatifard, formerly of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, has been tapped to lead the biochemistry and molecular genetics department at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Shilatifard, a past winner of the ASBMB-Amgen Award, “is an internationally recognized leader in chromatin biology, gene expression and epigenetics, and on how the misregulation of these pathways contributes to human cancer,” said Eric G. Neilson, a medical school vice-president and dean. “We are privileged and excited to have him spearhead our new (department).” Shilatifard discovered early in his career the function of the protein ELL, found in translocation with the MLL gene in childhood leukemia, and since then has made numerous other significant contributions to the field.

Samuel receives ICIS Honorary Life Membership Award


The International Cytokine and Interferon Society named Charles E. Samuel of the University of California, Santa Barbara, a recipient of the 2014 Honorary Life Membership Award. The lifetime membership award recognizes researchers who have made substantive contributions to the cytokine/interferon field. Samuel, an associate editor for the ASBMB’s Journal of Biological Chemistry, received the honor for his basic research on the antiviral mechanisms of interferon action. His lab has focused on the regulation and function of PKR and ADAR1, two interferon-inducible enzymes that are also double-stranded RNA binding proteins. PKR, an RNA-dependent protein kinase, controls the translational pattern in cells through phosphorylation of initiation factor eIF2α. ADAR1, an RNA-specific adenosine deaminase, deaminates adenosine to produce inosine in RNAs with double-stranded character, thereby leading to genetic recoding and altered RNA structures. Samuel received the award in Melbourne, Australia, in October at the ICIS annual meeting.