March 2011

Member Update

Barbas wins NIH Pioneer Award

Carlos F. Barbas III, the Janet and Keith Kellogg II chair in molecular biology at the Scripps Research Institute, is among the recipients of the 2010 National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Awards. The awards, given to exceptionally creative scientists who take innovative approaches to major challenges in biomedical research, provide up to $500,000 in research funding for five years.

Barbas’ project will focus on chemically programming immunity, which could lead to pills that instantaneously program both adaptive and innate arms of the immune system to attack a tumor or virus, preventing infection and halting disease. His goal is to develop novel approaches that allow innate and acquired immunity to be targeted purposefully to pathogens of interest. Ultimately, the studies will allow scientists to program a variety of immune cells and responses to attack pathogens of interest using a variety of mechanisms. He also intends to explore novel approaches that should allow for circulating immunoglobulins induced with covalent vaccines to be programmed to inhibit HIV-1 and flu virus entry. The vaccines that result from these studies may be of both prophylactic and therapeutic utility.


Burgers named Marvin A. Brennecke professor of biological chemistry

Peter M. J. Burgers has been named the Marvin A. Brennecke professor of biological chemistry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The professorship will provide continuous funding for Burgers’ research, which focuses on DNA replication and repair.

The professorship is named for Marvin A. Brennecke, a 1930 graduate of the school of medicine. Brennecke spent the bulk of his career in Hawaii, where he served as the Territory of Hawaii government physician for the Koloa District and later as medical director of Waimea Hospital in Waimea, Kauai. Brennecke died in 1994, leaving a gift to the university that provides ongoing funding for three named professorships. In addition to Burgers’ appointment, the gift supports the Brennecke professor of molecular microbiology and the Brennecke professor of biophysics.

Burgers studies DNA metabolism in yeast cells. He is particularly interested in the DNA replication fork and the mechanisms that come into play when replication goes awry because of DNA damage or other stress.


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