March 2011

Member Update

Hood awarded bioengineering’s Russ Prize

Leroy Hood, president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, has been awarded the bioengineering profession’s highest honor, the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize. The prize, given by Ohio University and the National Academy of Engineering, was presented to Hood for his discoveries related to the sequencing of the human genome.

“Dr. Hood’s contribution has advanced health and quality of life in the U.S. and around the world, and have enhanced the education of future engineering leaders,” said NAE president Charles Vest in a news release. “Recognizing him not only rewards great accomplishments but also shines a light on the importance of work that may inspire others to build on their achievements.”

Hood developed the automated DNA sequencer, which enables the rapid, automated sequencing of DNA, making a significant contribution to the mapping of the human genome and revolutionizing the field of genomics. To date, more than 1,000 genomes have been revealed using the automated DNA sequencer, transforming many areas of biology and accelerating the pace of scientific discovery in ways that will profoundly impact research in the coming decades.
The advancement also has led to expressed sequence tagging, which ultimately helped to predict gene function, and the ability to identify genes involved in diseases.

The Russ Prize was established in 1999 at the request of Ohio University to honor alumnus and esteemed engineer Fritz Russ and his wife, Dolores. Their multimillion dollar gift to the university for the prize was intended to promote engineering education and bioengineering achievements that are in widespread use and have improved the human condition worldwide. Hood is the sixth recipient of the biennial prize, which is modeled after the Nobel Prize.

Jentsch receives Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

Stefan Jentsch, director of the department of molecular cell biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany, has been selected to receive the 2011 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine.

Jentsch received the award for his work on small protein modifiers and their role in DNA repair. He pioneered studies on protein modifications by ubiquitin and related proteins. Modification of proteins by ubiquitin usually targets the proteins for degradation. However, Jentsch’s research revealed that ubiquitin also plays a crucial role in genome maintenance and DNA repair. This research has significant medical importance, as damaged DNA can cause various diseases, notably cancer.

The Louis-Jeantet Foundation grants 700,000 Swiss Francs for each of the 2011 prizes, 600,000 of which are for the continuation of the prize-winners’ work and 100,000 for their personal use. The prizes are given to cutting-edge researchers who are active in the European Council member countries. Established in 1986, the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine thus far has been awarded to 73 researchers: 23 in the United Kingdom, 14 in Switzerland, 12 in France, 11 in Germany, three in the Netherlands, three in Sweden, two in Belgium, two in Finland, two in Norway and one in Austria.


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