June 2012

Member update

Congrats are in order!

Ten members of the society were named members of the National Academy of Sciences:
  • Nancy Bonini
  • Gideon Dreyfuss
  • Paul Englund
  • Rachael Green
  • Tina Henkin
  • Sabeeha Merchant
  • Roy Parker
  • Gisela Storz
  • Richard Young
  • Louise Chow


The following have been elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences:
  • James M. Berger
  • Thomas Curran
  • Sarah Carlisle Roberts Elgin
  • Danny F. Reinberg
  • Brenda A. Schulman

Obeid appointed dean for research
at Stony Brook medical school

Photo of Lina ObeidStony Brook University’s School of Medicine has named Lina Obeid its next dean for research. Obeid will run the Office of Scientific Affairs, which manages about $75 million in research funds and 17 core research facilities, according to the institution. Announcing Obeid’s appointment, the medical school’s dean, Kenneth Kaushansky, said the physician-scientist is uniquely qualified for the post, which will oversee the soon-to-be-built research building that the institution hopes will serve as an incubator for collaboration among fundamental researchers and clinicians. Obeid has served as the principal investigator at the Medical University of South Carolina’s $11.7 million Center for Biological Research Excellence core grant for lipid signaling and intends to launch a similar lipid signaling and lipidomics center at Stony Brook. “This is an exciting opportunity to take the already excellent biomedical research enterprise at Stony Brook University to greater heights. There is a lot of momentum here to capitalize on, and despite the current challenges research in the U.S. faces, we are at a unique juncture in our knowledge base to really push exciting biomedical and translational science forward,” Obeid said.

Photo of James E. Darnell Jr. 
Photo of Robert G. Roeder 

Darnell, Roeder win nation’s largest prize in medicine
James E. Darnell Jr. and Robert G. Roeder, both of The Rockefeller University and pioneers in the field of gene regulation and expression, won the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the nation’s largest prize in medicine. Darnell leads the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology at Rockefeller, and Roeder leads the Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. They will share the $500,000 prize. Medical center officials said they recognized the pair for giving medical professionals and researchers tools to improve health and combat diseases. “Jim Darnell and Bob Roeder have been at the forefront of our understanding of gene expression since their first groundbreaking discoveries in (eukaryotic) RNA (synthesis and) processing more than 40 years ago,” Rockefeller’s president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, emphasized. “Their contributions to this field have provided indispensable support to scientists and physicians in the fight to understand and combat diseases like cancer, heart disease and autoimmune disorders.” Among Darnell’s past awards are the 2003 National Medal of Science, the 2002 Albert Lasker Award for Special Achievement in Medical Science, the 1997 Passano Award and the 1986 Gairdner Foundation International Award. Roeder also has won, among others, the 2010 Salk Institute Medal for Research Excellence, the 2003 Lasker award, the 2002 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-Merck Award, and the 2000 Gairdner award.

Stapleton named dean of graduate college
Photo of Susan StapletonSusan Stapleton, a professor of chemistry and biological sciences at Western Michigan University, was named the university’s graduate college dean. Stapleton, a faculty member since 1990, had served for the past five years as an associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and “has a long track record of working with students and guiding them through the research, publication and degree achievement process,” Timothy Greene, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said when announcing Stapleton’s appointment. Stapleton studies the regulation of carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism and is lauded for her work as a program director for an undergraduate research program funded by the National Science Foundation and as the project director for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Science Education Award.

Levy recognized with lifetime achievement award
Photo of Stuart B. LevyStuart B. Levy, a distinguished professor of molecular biology and microbiology and of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, won the American Society for Microbiology’s top award for his sustained contributions. Levy “has dedicated most of his life to antibiotic resistance,” his nominator, Hiroshi Nikaido of the University of California, Berkeley, said. “Throughout his career, he has not only elucidated the genetics and biochemistry of one of the most important mechanisms for drug resistance but also strived to minimize the selection and spreading of resistant bacteria.” Levy is credited with discovering the inner membrane Tet protein, which pumps tetracyclines out of the cell. He also discovered regulatory operon mar RAB, which regulates the expression of multidrug resistance and virulence, and coined the term “societal drugs” to describe antimicrobials. He is also known for a landmark paper demonstrating the effects of antibiotics found in animal feed on the environment and the transfer of resistant bacteria from animals to farm workers.

The Otto Warburg medal for Varshavsky
Photo of Alexander VarshavskyThe German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has named Alexander Varshavsky of the California Institute of Technology the winner of the Otto Warburg Medal, the highest German award for biochemists and molecular biologists. Varshavsky’s group discovered the first and major biological functions of the ubiquitin system and the first degradation signals in short-lived proteins. It also cloned the first ubiquitin ligases. The Otto Warburg Medal has been awarded by the society since 1963 to honor pioneering achievements in fundamental biochemical and molecular biological research. Thus far, seven of the winners have gone on to receive the Nobel prize. The award includes a prize of 25,000 euros.

Blackburn earns American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal
Photo of Elizabeth H. BlackburnThe American Institute of Chemists named Nobel laureate Elizabeth H. Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco, this year’s recipient of its Gold Medal. She received the award at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in April during the foundation’s annual celebration. “The AIC Gold Medal was the first major prize in chemistry awarded to a woman, Mabel Garvan, in 1929,” David Manuta, the institute’s president, said in announcing Blackburn’s award. He added that this year’s prize marked the first time it had gone to a female Nobel laureate. Blackburn won the prize for her research with telomere and telomerase. “It is a great honor for us to add the name Elizabeth Blackburn to the roll of 87 great chemists who have received the AIC Gold Medal over the past eight decades,” Manuta said.

Argüello will hold inaugural endowed professorship
Photo of Jose ArguelloAfter receiving a $6 million bequest from the estate of former Worcester Polytechnic Institute trustee Miriam B. Rutman, the institute named José Argüello, a Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board member, the first to hold a new endowed professorship. “We are delighted to be able to recognize such an accomplished educator and researcher with this distinguished honor,” WPI’s provost, Eric Overström, said in announcing the appointment of Argüello, who has been with the institute since 1996. Argüello’s research focuses on the structure and function of proteins that transport heavy metals. In 2009, he served a stint as a program director in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at the National Science Foundation. A year later, he was appointed to a four-year term on the National Institutes of Health’s Macromolecular Structure and Function (A) study section. The Rutman estate’s gift endowing the professorship was the second-largest donation by an individual in the institute’s history.


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