June 2011

Member Update

ASBMB members in the news this month include Mina Bissell,  Elaine Fuchs, Shinya Yamanaka, Gerard Karsenty, Harry Schachter and Jeremiah Silbert. Several ASBMB members also were elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  

Bissell wins Jill Rose Award

Mina Bissell, a distinguished scientist in the life sciences division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been named the recipient of the 2011 Jill Rose Award by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The award, named for the late New York philanthropist and founding BCRF board member, comes with a gift of $25,000. 

Bissell is being recognized for her “pioneering work in the field of tumor microenvironment and singular contributions to our understanding of the importance of the extracellular matrix and its impact on gene expression in cancer biology, particularly breast cancer.” 

Bissell’s current research focuses on the role of extracellular matrix, its receptors and its degrading enzymes as central modulators of tissue-specific gene expression, signal transduction, apoptosis and cancer. Using mammary glands from mice and humans, she and her colleagues study the above processes in breasts and breast cancer.


Fuchs and Yamanaka share prize in medicine and biomedical research

Elaine Fuchs Shinya Yamanaka

ASBMB members Elaine Fuchs and Shinya Yamanaka are two of the three recipients of the 11th annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research. Fuchs, Yamanaka and James A. Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison were honored for pioneering work in isolating human stem cells.

Yamanaka is director and professor of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Applications at Kyoto University in Japan and senior investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco.

Fuchs is the Rebecca C. Lancefield professor, head of the Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at The Rockefeller University in New York City.

The Albany Prize, which is awarded annually, recognizes extraordinary and sustained contributions to improving health care and promoting biomedical research with translational benefits applied to improved patient care. Fuchs, Thomson and Yamanaka are being recognized for work that has moved scientists closer to realizing the regenerative and potentially healing properties of stem cells as well as helping illuminate how human tissues develop and function. The $500,000 prize is the largest award in medicine and science in the U.S. 

Yamanaka and Thomson are credited with discovering how to genetically reprogram adult human cells back to an embryonic state. The production of these induced pluripotent stem cells, made independently in each researcher’s lab and reported in 2007, was hailed as a major scientific breakthrough. Fuchs is known for developing reverse genetics techniques that have made stem cell and genetic research easier for all scientists.

Karsenty garners inaugural Herbert A. Fleisch Medal

The European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis and the International Osteoporosis Foundation recently announced that Gerard Karsenty of the Columbia University Medical Center has been awarded the first Herbert A. Fleisch ESCEO-IOF Medal. Herbert Fleisch was a renowned researcher whose groundbreaking work contributed to the development of the field of scientific knowledge about metabolic bone diseases and their treatment. 

The newly created award, valued at 20,000 euros, recognizes a researcher who has made outstanding and groundbreaking achievements in basic bone science. 

Karsenty is professor and chair in the department of genetics and development at the Columbia University Medical Center. He is known for his many fundamental contributions to understanding skeletal development and skeletal physiology. Karsenty’s laboratory has been instrumental in identifying Runx2 as the master gene of osteoblast differentiation and in deciphering the genetic cascade of osteoblast differentiation. He also has contributed to the molecular elucidation of bone mineralization and has made significant advances in the study of bone physiology. Lastly, Karsenty’s lab has shown that gut-derived serotonin is a powerful inhibitor of bone formation.


Schachter and Silbert receive award for lifetime achievement in glycobiology

Harry Schachter Jeremiah Silbert

The Society for Glycobiology recently awarded the 2010 Rosalind Kornfeld Award Lifetime Achievement in Glycobiology to Harry Schachter and Jeremiah Silbert.

The Kornfeld award was established in 2008 to honor Kornfeld’s distinguished scientific career and service to the Society for Glycobiology. The award is given to scientists who have, over their professional lifetimes, made significant contributions to glycobiology. 

Schachter is professor emeritus of biochemistry at the University of Toronto and senior scientist emeritus at the Research Institute at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He has made many seminal contributions to glycobiology and the biochemistry of glycan synthesis. 

Silbert is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and senior medical investigator emeritus at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He has pioneered studies on glycosaminoglycan biosynthesis, structure, function, degradation, localization, and description in cells and tissues.  

ASBMB members receive academy honors

 This past spring, seven American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members were elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and 11 were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Arthur L. Beaudet, Brian K. Kobilka, Lynne E. Maquat, Carl F. Nathan, Athanasios Theologis and Stephen T. Warren were honored with election to the NAS, and Alberto R. Kornblihtt and Shinya Yamanaka were named foreign associates. They are among the Academy’s 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 15 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. 

Chi Dang, Raymond Deshaies, Vishva Dixit, Maxwell Gottesman, Richard Morimoto, Martine Roussel, David Russell, Eric Selker, Kevan Shokat, Wesley Sundquist and Marvin Wickens were among the 212 new members who joined the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Arthur L. Beaudet is the Henry and Emma Meyer professor and chair in the department of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine.

Chi Dang is the Johns Hopkins family professor in oncology research as well as a professor of medicine, cell biology, oncology and pathology and vice dean for research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

• Raymond Deshaies is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology.

• Vishva Dixit is vice president of physiological chemistry at Genentech.

• Maxwell Gottesman is the Revson professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and microbiology and immunology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

• Brian K. Kobilka is a professor in the departments of molecular and cellular physiology and medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

 Alberto R. Kornblihtt is a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Buenos Aires.

• Lynne E. Maquat is the J. Lowell Orbison chair and professor in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

• Richard Morimoto is a professor in the department of molecular biosciences at Northwestern University.

• Carl F. Nathan is chairman of the department of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

• Martine Roussel holds an endowed chair in molecular oncogenesis. She also is co-chair of the Cancer Center Signal Transduction Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and full professor in the department of molecular sciences at The University of Tennessee.

 David Russell is the Eugene McDermott distinguished chair in molecular genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

• Eric Selker is a professor of biology at the University of Oregon Institute of Molecular Biology.

• Kevan Shokat is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor and chair in the department of cellular and molecular pharmacology at University of California, San Francisco, as well as a professor in the department of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.

• Wesley Sundquist is a professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah.

• Athanasios Theologis is an emeritus adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

• Stephen T. Warren is the William Patterson Timmie professor and chair in the department of human genetics at the Emory University School of Medicine.

• Marvin Wickens is the Max Perutz professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

• Shinya Yamanaka is a senior investigator and L.K. Whittier Foundation investigator in stem cell biology at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, University of California, San Francisco.

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