December 2010

ASBMB Member Spotlight

ASBMB members in the spotlight this month include Joel S. Bennett, Robert G. Roeder, J. Michael Bishop, Charles J. Epstein, William Ja, Eric M. Verdin, Stephen J. Benkovic, Susan L. Lindquist and Stanley B. Prusiner. Nine ASBMB members also were elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.


Joel S. BennettBennett Awarded Beutler Prize for Translational Research

Joel S. Bennett, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has been awarded the Ernest T. Beutler Lecture and Prize by the American Society of Hematology. Bennett will share the prize with Barry S. Coller of The Rockefeller University.

According to the ASH, Bennett and Coller were awarded the prize for “enabling advances in basic science as well as in clinical science and translational applications in hematology.” The award is named for the late Ernest Beutler, past president of ASH and physician-scientist for more than 50 years. It is presented to two individuals and is intended to recognize major advances related to a single topic.

Bennett’s research focuses on the structural basis of platelet integrin regulation. He has found that helix-helix interactions involving the transmembrane and membrane-proximal cytoplasmic domain segments play an essential role in regulating the function of both beta 1 and beta 3 integrins. The current focus of his studies is using biophysical and molecular biology techniques to characterize these interactions in detail and employing this information in designing potential antithrombotic agents.

Robert G. RoederRoeder Receives Salk Medal for Research Excellence

Gene expression pioneer Robert G. Roeder, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at The Rockefeller University, is the recipient of the Salk Institute’s Medal for Research Excellence.

“Robert Roeder’s contributions to the understanding of RNA synthesis in animal cells are unparalleled in modern science,” said Salk President William R. Brody in a press release. “The institute’s 50th anniversary is the perfect moment to recognize the extraordinary contributions of our medalists. The Salk Institute medals are a fitting tribute to their ongoing, vital contributions to science and society. And our founder, Jonas Salk, would have been absolutely delighted by the medalist selection.”

Roeder is known for his research on eukaryotic transcriptional regulation. In 1969, he showed RNA polymerases I, II and III directly copy DNA in animal cells. Later, he developed cell-free systems composed of purified RNA polymerases and components extracted from cell nuclei and used these cell-free systems to identify accessory factors essential for the RNA polymerases (e.g., TFIIA, TFIIB, TFIID, etc.) to read target genes. Roeder also was involved in the discovery of coactivators, large protein complexes that provide a bridge between the activators and repressors and the RNA polymerases and other components of the general transcription machinery.

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