February 2011

Christine Guthrie recognized with ASBMB-Merck Award

Christine Guthrie, a leading figure in the field of RNA processing and a dedicated mentor to young scientists, has been named the winner of the 2011 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-Merck Award.

 

“I am just delighted to receive this award. I am deeply honored to be included in the august company of the previous recipients and profoundly indebted to the long succession of remarkable students and fellows who have made this possible.”
– CHRISTINE GUTHRIE

Christine Guthrie, a leading figure in the field of RNA processing and a dedicated mentor to young scientists, has been named the winner of the 2011 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-Merck Award.

Guthrie, a major contributor to the development of yeast as a model system for studying cell biology, was nominated by Yale University’s Joan Steitz, who says of the winner, “Christine Guthrie’s pioneering advances have relied on her innovative coupling of biochemistry and genetics starting from the beginning of her distinguished career. Christine is not only an inspiring role model to her peers and to younger scientists, but her mentorship has guided the careers of a number of today’s leaders in the RNA field worldwide.”

Guthrie, a professor of biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, first identified small nuclear RNAs in yeast, which initiated a genetic study of the roles of those RNAs in the spliceosome process. In addition, she isolated a large number of yeast mutants defective in splicing and established the point in the splicing cycle that required each mutant protein.

“Her body of work has been recognized both nationally and internationally,” says Phillip A. Sharp, a professor at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. “Her papers are novel and superbly written, and I am frequently spellbound by her lectures, for she is an eloquent orator who skillfully uses humor and substance.”

About the Award

The ASBMB-Merck Award recognizes outstanding contributions to research in biochemistry and molecular biology. It provides a plaque and a $5,000 purse, and it covers transportation and expenses of the recipient and spouse to attend the ASBMB annual meeting and present a lecture. Guthrie will give her award lecture, “The Spliceosome is a Dynamic RNP Machine: Fidelity Strategies,” at 8:30 a.m. April 13 at the 2011 annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

You can view award presentations from the 2010 ASBMB annual meeting in our archive.

Longtime acquaintance James E. Dahlberg, the Fredrick Sanger professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, said Guthrie sets the pace and bar for scientists of all ages and levels of achievement.

“I have known Christine since she was a graduate student and have followed her career and accomplishments very carefully. She is truly a guiding light for those of us working on the chemistry, biology or genetics of RNA, a class of molecules that is crucial to essentially all aspects of biology,” he says. “In particular, young scientists can see in her the satisfaction that comes from being a successful scientist and that it is possible for them to do just as well.”

Those sentiments were echoed by one of Guthrie’s former doctoral students, Hiten Madhani, who is now a professor at UCSF.

“If one were to ask any well-informed molecular biologists who were the two women who have had the greatest impact on the field of RNA splicing, the unanimous answer would be Christine Guthrie and Joan Steitz,” Madhani says. “Christine’s contributions to the field over the past quarter century have been numerous and read like the greatest hits of RNA splicing.”

Please feel free to send a congratulatory email to Christine Guthrie or leave her a note in the comment space below.

Angela Hopp (ahopp@asbmb.org) is managing editor for special projects at ASBMB.


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