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Published December 01 2018

Vanderbilt chair honors Armstrong

A $1 million gift to Vanderbilt University has established a new faculty chair named in honor of the late biochemist Richard Armstrong.

The Richard N. Armstrong, Ph.D., chair for innovation in biochemistry will support a faculty researcher in the school of medicine’s division of basic sciences.

Endowed by Armstrong’s family, the chair was created as part of the Chancellor’s Chair Challenge, during which the university is investing $30 million to support endowed chairs.

Armstrong passed away in 2015 at the age of 66. He had served since 1995 on the Vanderbilt faculty, where he was a professor of biochemistry and chemistry. His research career focused on understanding detoxification enzymes.

He also served as editor-in-chief of the journal Biochemistry for 12 years and held an adjunct professorship at the Karolinska Institute.

Richard Armstrong

Bassler wins Schering prize

Molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler received the 2018 Ernst Schering Prize for her research on quorum sensing. One of the most prestigious German science honors, the award is issued annually to a scientist who has done outstanding biomedical research.

Quorum sensing is the process of cell-to-cell communication in bacteria. Bassler was honored for describing the universal use of chemical communication among bacteria, transforming our view of bacteria.

She is Princeton’s Squibb professor in molecular biology and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The award carries a €50,000 prize.

Bonnie Bassler

McReynolds receives Hanna Gray fellowship

Melanie McReynolds is among 15 early-career scientists to receive Hanna Gray Fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The program seeks to promote diversity in the biomedical research community by supporting scientists who come from backgrounds underrepresented in the life sciences.

McReynolds is a postdoctoral research assistant in the lab of Joshua Rabinowitz at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the diseases of aging and on understanding how the molecule NAD+ is produced and used.

Each fellow receives up to $1.4 million in funding over eight years, supporting them from early postdoctoral training through obtaining a faculty position.

In addition to funding, the program supports career development through mentoring and networking with other scientists.

Melanie McReynolds

Berger appointed Hopkins director

James Berger has been appointed director of the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

Berger’s appointment is part of the university’s Betting Big on Basic Science initiative, which will invest $100 million over the next five years to hire new faculty and support core programs.

He will be tasked with developing interdisciplinary as well as translational and collaborative research programs at IBBS.

Berger is a professor of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at John Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-director of the cancer chemical and structural biology program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

A structural biologist, Berger studies the fundamental mechanisms of enzymes that control cell proliferation.

James Berger

Cornett promoted to associate professor

Jonathan Cornett is among seven Lee University faculty members to be promoted from assistant professor to associate professor.

Cornett received his undergraduate degree at Lee University in Tennessee, where he was named a Centennial Scholar and a Ledford Scholar, won the E.K. Hamilton Scholarship in Math and Sciences, and received the departmental biochemistry award.

Cornett earned his doctorate in genetics and molecular biology from Emory University and completed postdoctoral studies at the Yale University School of Medicine.

He joined the Lee University faculty full time in 2012.

Jonathan Cornett

Jewell earns Gilman scholarship

Salisbury University undergraduate student Mollie Jewell received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship at the university’s annual honors convention.

The Gilman scholarship, a grant program through the U.S. Department of State, provides financial support to study or intern abroad. With it, Jewell took a summer course titled Bioscience for Global Health at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

The program is open to undergraduates who are U.S. citizens receiving federal Pell Grant funding at two-year or four-year colleges.

A senior biology major at the university in Maryland, Jewell serves as president of the Delta Alpha Pi international honor society and as co-president for Salisbury’s American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Student Chapter. She is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Beta Beta honor societies.

Mollie Jewell

In memoriam: Lewis Lukens

Lewis Nelson Lukens, a former Wesleyan University biochemistry professor, passed away at his home in Middletown, Connecticut, on Sept. 8. He was 91.

Born Jan. 21, 1927, Lukens earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1949 and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954.

Lukens was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and later joined the faculty at Yale Medical School. In 1966, he joined the faculty at Wesleyan, where he stayed until his retirement in 1999.

Lukens was a founding member of the department of molecular biology and biochemistry at Wesleyan. His research focused on the regulation of gene expression by eukaryotic cells, specifically the genes for type I and type II collagen.

He also served as chairman of the biology department, on the committee on graduate instruction and as program director of the university’s biomedical research support grant.

He is survived by his wife, Ellen, and their four children, Katherine Lukens, Marie Lukens Hansen, Ellen Lukens Sisson and Lewis Lukens Jr.

Lewis Nelson Lukens

Erik Chaulk Erik Chaulk is a peer-review coordinator and digital publications web specialist at the ASBMB.