January 2011

ASBMB Member Update

ASBMB members in the news this month include Barry L. Karger, Kathleen Gould, Richard D. Smith, Joan Massagué and Phillip A. Sharp. We also look back on the lives of Philip Person and Marie W. Wooten.


KargerHerovsky Medal goes to Karger

Barry L. Karger, director of the Barnett Institute and James L. Waters professor of analytical chemistry at Northeastern University, is the recipient of the Herovsky Gold Medal for Merit in the Chemical Sciences, awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Karger’s research focuses on the development and application of microscale separations and mass spectrometry analysis to problems of biological relevance.

Karger also recently was awarded the inaugural Csaba Horvath Memorial Lectureship, sponsored by the American Chemical Society International Chemical Sciences chapter in Hungary.


GouldGould becomes director of international scholar program

Kathleen Gould, professor of cell and developmental biology at Vanderbilt University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, has been selected as the first director of a new Vanderbilt program aimed at attracting the best and brightest biomedical graduate students from around the world.

The Vanderbilt International Scholar Program in Biomedical Research, which began this past summer, will cover the first two years of tuition and stipends for selected scholars who maintain good academic standing. According to Gould, the goal is to make Vanderbilt “a more attractive place for them to consider coming to because there would not be any limitations on exploring their passion in science.”

“To be a truly great international university, Vanderbilt needs to continue to grow a diverse community of scholars,” said Susan Wente, associate vice chancellor for research and senior associate dean for biomedical sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who spearheaded the program.

VISP already is attracting interest from universities around the world— 12 scholars from Cameroon, China, India, Korea and Vietnam were selected this summer to participate in the first year of the program.

SmithSmith named R&D Scientist of the Year

Richard D. Smith, director of the National Institutes of Health Biomedical Technology Resource Center for Integrative Biology and the U.S. Department of Energy High Throughput Proteomics Facility at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has been named a 2010 Scientist of the Year by R&D Magazine.

Smith’s research has contributed numerous fundamental advances to mass spectrometry and proteomics. He helped introduce advanced microanalytical separations and accurate MS instrumentation and techniques for quantitative, ultra-sensitive, high-resolution rapid measurements of proteins and other biomolecules in complex biological systems. Smith’s work has addressed Parkinson’s disease, cancer and biofuels production, and during the past five years, his contributions to proteomics measurements have laid critical groundwork for breakthrough advances in systems biology.

Most recently, Smith developed a next-generation proteomics measurement platform that utilizes ion mobility separations to reduce proteome analysis times from several hours to several minutes.

“I’m surprised and pleased at the honor, and happy to be in such great company,” said Smith in a news release. “And I’m especially grateful to the incredibly talented team of researchers at the lab who I have been able to work with.”

WootenIn memoriam: Marie W. Wooten

Marie W. Wooten, former editorial board member for the Journal of Biological Chemistry, passed away on Nov. 5, 2010 after being struck by a vehicle.

Wooten earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Memphis in 1979 and her doctorate in cell and molecular biosciences from Texas Women’s University in 1983. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Medical College of Georgia, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. She joined Auburn University in 1987 as a faculty member in the department of biological sciences in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. She served as head of the department from 1995— 1997 and in 2000 became associate dean of research for the college, a position she held until becoming dean in 2010. She also was the recipient of the Scharnagel professorship at AU.

In her role as associate dean of research, Wooten guided the creation of multiple innovative programs, enhanced interdisciplinary research, developed strategic partnerships and sought to diversify the college’s research portfolio. Widely recognized for her contributions as a mentor, scientist, scholar and academic administrator, Wooten was committed to student training and outreach. She was cofounder of the Institute for Women in Sciences and Engineering and also a member of the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program, which focuses on enhancing diversity in STEM fields.

Wooten’s research interests included cellular and molecular developmental neurobiology and neurodegeneration. In a study that had entered its second decade, Wooten discovered a protein molecule in the brain that could prove to be a key in the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

In memoriam: Philip Person

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular biology member Philip Person passed away on Sept. 16, 2010.

Person was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1919. He attended Boy’s High School in Brooklyn and graduated with a degree in chemistry from the City College of New York in 1940. After obtaining his dental degree from New York University, he earned his doctorate in biochemistry with Walter Wainio at Rutgers University.

Person served in the U.S. Armed Forces at Edgewood Arsenal during World War II and as a research scientist at Walter Reed Army Hospital during the Korean War. He spent his career as chief of the Special Research Laboratory for Oral Metabolism at the Brooklyn VA Hospital and served on the dental school faculties of New York University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He served as a consultant to the World Health Organization of the United Nations. Person also was a summer scientist at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, conducting research there for more than 50 years. After retiring from the Veteran’s Administration in 1985, Person became a biomedical consultant.

Massagué and Sharp named Rock Stars of Science

Joan Massagué, chairman of the cancer biology and genetics program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Phillip A. Sharp, institute professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have been named 2010 Rock Stars of Science.

The two scientists join 15 of the nation’s top medical researchers and eight celebrity musicians— rock icons Debbie Harry (Blondie), Bret Michaels, Timbaland, Keri Hilson, Heart (Anne and Nancy Wilson), Jay Sean and B.o.B— in a special six-page public service campaign that appears in GQ Magazine’s December “Men of the Year” edition. Each photo set is a tribute to scientific heroes in fields like translational cancer research, Alzheimer’s/neuro-imaging/prevention trials, heart disease/integrative medicine, autism, rare diseases, stem cell research, global health and space age research.

The campaign, now in its second year, is sponsored by Geoffrey Beene Gives Back®, GQ Magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation/SU2C.

“The RSOS campaign shines the spotlight on this critical national issue,” said G. Thompson Hutton, CEO and trustee of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, in a press release. “If we invest in research, we will save lives now and trillions of dollars later.”

“Scientists must venture outside their comfort zones to show the public how cool— and how important— their work really is,” said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and one of the 2009 Rock Stars of Science. “I’m thrilled to see all of these big-name musicians using their star power to shine a spotlight on science. However, it is only the beginning. I urge every scientist to get into the act by telling friends, neighbors, community leaders, and elected officials about his or her research and what it means for our nation’s health. Imagine how powerful that would be.”

To read more about the scientists and to celebrate your own “Rock Doc,” go to the Rock Stars of Science website


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