April 2011

ASBMB Member Update


Bond named FASEB president-elect

Judith S. Bond

Judith S. Bond, professor and chairwoman of biochemistry and molecular biology at The Pennsylvania State University, has been named president-elect of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. She will begin her term on July 1, 2011, will serve as president-elect through June 30, 2012, and will take office as FASEB president on July 1, 2012.

Bond’s research focuses on the structure, function and regulation of proteolytic enzymes called meprins. Her work on wasting diabetic mice led to the discovery of meprins, a subunit of which has recently been identified as a susceptibility factor for inflammatory bowel disease.

Bond was president of ASBMB from 2004 to 2006 and is currently an associate editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Craik garners Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry

David Craik

David Craik, a professor at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, has won the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award in Peptide Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.

Craik was recognized for his work with circular peptides, known as cyclotides. He described the first cyclotide and has been a major contributor to the field ever since. Recently, he engineered a new circular peptide to treat pain by combining a stable cyclotide with a conopeptide – a pain-blocking peptide found in the venom of marine cone snails. The engineered molecule has proven effective at treating pain in early trials.

“Professor Craik has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of the structure-function relationships of peptide toxins and circular peptides and proteins,” noted Paul F. Alewood (Craik’s colleague at the University of Queensland) in C&E News. “His multidisciplinary approach not only requires great intellect and drive but courage to learn new disciplines and employ them in smart ways.”

The Ralph F. Hirschmann Award was established in 1988 to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in the chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics of peptides. It is sponsored by Merck Research Laboratories.

Robinson wins Women in Science Award

Carol V. Robinson

The European Molecular Biology Organization and the Federation of European Biochemical Societies recently announced that Carol V. Robinson, professor of chemistry at the University of Oxford, is the winner of the 2011 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award. Robinson was been recognized for her pioneering work in the development of mass spectrometry as a tool for investigating the structure and dynamics of protein complexes.

The award recognizes exceptional achievements by a female researcher in molecular biology during the previous five years. Winners of the award are role models who inspire future generations of women in science.

“Carol V. Robinson has pioneered, in an almost single-handed manner, the use of electrospray mass spectrometry for structural studies of large multimeric protein assemblies. She had the courage to do what experts regarded as not feasible and has succeeded in the face of strong skepticism,” stated her collaborator Wolfgang Baumeister of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, in his nomination of Robinson for the award.

Robinson’s group was one of the first to use electrospray mass spectrometry to study large protein complexes. In collaboration with Micromass UK, she designed an instrument specifically adapted for the detection of high-mass complexes. This instrument has since gone into production in Canada and the UK and is in use in many laboratories around the world. More recently, Robinson’s research has focused on combining mass spectrometry with cryoelectron microscopy.

National Academy honors four ASBMB members

Recently, the National Academy of Sciences honored four ASBMB members with awards recognizing their extraordinary achievements in science.

Bonnie L. Bassler, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Squibb professor in the department of molecular biology at Princeton University, received the Richard Lounsbery Award for her pioneering discoveries of the universal use of chemical communication among bacteria and the elucidation of structural and regulatory mechanisms controlling bacterial assemblies.

Stephen J. Benkovic, Evan Pugh professor and Eberly chairman in chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University, was given the NAS Award in Chemical Sciences. Benkovic is being honored for groundbreaking contributions to understanding catalysis and complex biological machines with his work on the purinosome and DNA polymerases.

James M. Berger, the Walter and Ruth Schubert Family chairman in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, is the recipient of the NAS Award in Molecular Biology. He is being honored for elucidating the structures of topoisomerases and helicases and providing insights into the biochemical mechanisms that mediate the replication and transcription of DNA.

Carol A. Gross, professor in the departments of microbiology and immunology and of cell and tissue biology at the University of California, San Francisco, is the recipient of the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology. She is being honored for her pioneering studies on mechanisms of gene transcription and its control and for defining the roles of sigma factors during homeostasis and under stress.

Bassler Benkovic Berger Gross

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