September 2011

Member update

Schekman tapped as the top editor of a new journal


Randy W. Schekman, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will lead the launch of a new open-access journal established by HHMI, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust.

Schekman, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has devoted the past three decades to better understanding the molecular machinery that enables proteins to be trafficked within cells. He has made many contributions in his field, including discovering how vesicles bud off from the cell’s endoplasmic reticulum and transport proteins and identifying more than 50 genes involved in the process with his colleagues.

Schekman’s important role has yielded several major awards, including the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the Gairdner Foundation International Award and the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize.

Diabetes group’s Banting award goes to Corkey


Barbara E. Corkey, vice-chair of research in the department of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Obesity Research Center at Boston Medical Center, received the American Diabetes Association’s 2011 Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement Award.

Named after Nobel Prize winner Frederick Banting, this prestigious award honors an individual who has made significant, long-term contributions to the understanding of diabetes, its treatment or its prevention.

A leader in the fields of metabolism, diabetes and obesity for more than 35 years, Corkey works on the molecular basis of nutrient signal transduction and has significantly improved our understanding of health and disease. She developed the concept of glucolipotoxicity, in which elevated glucose and lipids cause tissue malfunction in diabetes, and found that anaplerosis, malonyl-CoA, reactive oxygen species and long-chain acyl-CoA esters are linked to fuel metabolism and control of insulin secretion in beta cells.

Two JBC board members receive Japanese prizes


Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board members Kohei Miyazono and Naoyuki Taniguchi were selected to receive the Japan Academy Prize. One of the most prestigious prizes in Japanese academia, the Japan Academy Prize is given to nine recipients who have made great contributions in their respective fields. The recipients come from a wide range of academic fields including humanities, social sciences, formal sciences, natural sciences and applied sciences.

The Japan Academy Prize recognized Taniguchi for his pioneering accomplishments in glycobiology and his discovery of the significance of N-glycans in disease. His current research aims to study glycan-related cancers and infectious diseases through multiple approaches combining glycobiology, chemical biology, structural biology and bioinformatics.

Miyazono was given the prize for his achievements in identifying various functions of TGF beta in cancer. For the past 25 years, Miyazono has made great strides in signaling mechanisms in cancer cells. A few of his most notable accomplishments include identifying various functions of TGF beta in cancer and revealing their signaling mechanisms and biological functions.

Colman recognized for her outstanding publications, impact


Roberta Colman, professor emeritus at the University of Delaware, was ranked 23rd in the list of journal Biochemistry’s 50 most prolific authors. Colman was only one of four women included in the distinguished group.

Her research focuses on understanding the catalytic activity of enzymes in terms of protein structure. Colman’s lab studies the enzyme glutathione S-transferase, which plays an important role in detoxifying foreign chemicals, and adenylosuccinate lyase, a shortage of which is related to mental retardation and autism.

Colman was ASBMB’s Herbert A. Sober Award winner in 1996.

In memoriam

Member_update_Jack_D_Herbert Jack D. Herbert, founding member of the board of directors of the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research and professor emeritus at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, passed away on June 22 at the age of 70. Herbert was born on Aug. 2, 1940, in Hammond, La. He graduated from Rhodes College and then received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1967 from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Herbert spent the entirety of his career in LSUHSC teaching and researching biochemistry and molecular biology. Herbert’s main research interests included the intermediary metabolism of amino acids, amino acid nutrition, uric acid production and excretion, and gout. He was known for his distinctive lecturing style and his love for New Orleans’ culture.

Yoshito Kaziro, a longtime ASBMB member, passed away on June 29 after a long battle with lymphoma. The son of famous hemoglobin researcher Kozo Kaziro, Yoshito Kaziro studied under Sumio Shimazono, a leader in vitamin biochemistry at the University of Tokyo. In 1959, he joined the laboratory of Severo Ochoa at New York University, where he purified and crystallized biotin-dependent propionyl-CoA carboxylase. Kaziro had the opportunity to establish his own lab in the U.S. but instead returned to the University of Tokyo in 1963. His research focused on GTPases functioning in translation and in cell signaling. In 1992, he was appointed president of Sanyo Gakuen University. Recently, Kaziro mentored young life scientists at Kyoto University.

Gary K. Ackers, professor emeritus at the Washington University in St. Louis, died on May 20 at the age of 71 from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Born in Dodge City, Kan., Ackers attended Harding College and earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry and mathematics. He received his Ph.D. in physiological chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University in 1964. Ackers joined the faculty at the University of Virginia before returning to Johns Hopkins University as a professor of biology. He then became the biochemistry department head at Washington University School of Medicine. Ackers was instrumental in establishing the molecular biophysics program and expanding the department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics. He was known for his sense of humor and his many contributions in biophysics.

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