Member update


Luger wins funding for genome institute

Karolin Luger and an interdisciplinary team of investigators have been awarded a grant from Colorado State University to support the Institute for Genome Architecture and Function. Luger is on the board of directors of the institute, which operates as a multi-university hub for studying genome architecture and function in Colorado, combining interdisciplinary research approaches to develop novel technologies and foster innovation. The $200,000 award is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research at CSU as part of its Catalyst for Innovative Partnerships program. The IGAF also provides support for investigators and training for students in a collaborative research environment.

Luger recently moved her lab to the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she holds the Jenny Smoley Carruthers Endowed Chair for Chemistry and Biochemistry and studies chromatin architecture and dynamics though molecular and structural biology techniques. An investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Luger has received the Searle Scholar Award, the Monfort Professor Award and the State Science Prize of Vorarlberg, Austria.


Walter gets Vilcek Prize

Peter Walter is the 2015 recipient of the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science. The yearly $100,000 prize honors immigrant contributions to major American achievements. Recognized by the Vilcek Foundation for his seminal discoveries in cellular protein quality control, Walter is known for his contributions to describing the signal recognition particle, which targets newly synthesized proteins to the endoplasmic reticulum for processing and maturation. Walter’s work also led to the discovery of the unfolded protein response, which is a major quality-control system used to regulate misfolded proteins in cells.

Professor in the biochemistry and biophysics department at the University of California, San Francisco, Walter is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A National Academy of Sciences member, he has won the Shaw Prize and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. He will give a plenary lecture at the 2016 ASBMB annual meeting in March in San Diego. 


AAI award for Kanneganti

Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti received the 2015 AAI-BD Biosciences Investigator Award for her outstanding early-career research contributions to the field of immunology. Kanneganti is a researcher in the department of immunology at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Kanneganti was nominated for the prize by Nobel laureate Peter Doherty, who praised her as an extraordinary investigator with a broad view of her field.

Kanneganti has been a member of the St. Jude faculty since 2007. Her laboratory focuses on how the innate immune system recognizes and responds to pathogens and how genetic mutations affect the development of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.


Doudna wins 2015 Gruber Genetics Prize

Jennifer Doudna, along with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Gruber Genetics Prize. The international award carries an unrestricted prize of $500,000 for “groundbreaking work” that enables “fundamental shifts in knowledge and culture.” Doudna and Charpentier were recognized for characterizing the CRISPR-Cas9 system. The CRISPR-Cas9 system is a bacterial defense mechanism that can cleave and edit foreign DNA. Their discovery marks a shift in the progress of scientific research, as the system can be utilized for targeted genome editing in a variety of model organisms.

Doudna is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Doudna was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and the Institute of Medicine in 2010. Among her many accolades are the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, the Alan T. Waterman Award, the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences, and the 2013 Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry from the ASBMB.

Written by Christine Lee