July 2012

Member update

Kelvin Davies being knighted 
Kelvin J. A. Davies of the University of Southern California was knighted in May under the National Order of Merit, which recognizes French nationals and citizens of other countries, at the Residence de France in Beverly Hills, Calif., in a ceremony conducted by French Consul General M. David Martignon. “I was raised on the legends of the French knight Sir Lancelot du Lac, who traveled to England to join King Arthur’s Round Table, ” Davies later said. “In a sense, therefore, this is the fulfillment of a childhood dream.” Davies will travel in September to Paris, where his honor will be confirmed at a ceremony at the Luxembourg Palace.

 
AACR honors Bissell with award lectureship about her breast cancer research
Photo of Mina J. BissellThe American Association for Cancer Research named Mina J. Bissell of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory the recipient of the organization’s 2012 Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research, supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb. In a statement, Bissell said she was grateful for the recognition: “For years my research focus was very different from what many others were excited about. I feel my being honored with such high-profile awards shows that my ideas are being accepted and signals to young researchers that, if they are passionate about their work, they should persist, following their intuition and results wherever these may take them, not necessarily where the current thinking dictates.” Bissell, a world-recognized researcher of the role of extracellular matrix, will deliver an award lecture in December at the association’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, and receive a $10,000 honorarium.

Merchant wins a lifetime achievement award from German foundation
Photo of Sabeeha MerchantSabeeha Merchant of the University of California, Los Angeles, won a Humboldt Research Award, a lifetime achievement award issued by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany. Academics from outside of Germany are nominated by academics in Germany, and Merchant’s nominator was scientist Ralph Bock of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology. Up to 100 awards in all areas of science are issued each year, and winners are invited to do research projects that involve German collaborators. Each award is worth about $75,000. Merchant’s research program focuses on trace metal metabolism using Chlamydomonas as a reference organism. She and her team are using high-throughput genetics, transcriptomics and proteomics to understand fundamental biochemical mechanisms.

Hannun named director of Stony Brook University Cancer Center
Photo of Yusuf HannunYusuf Hannun has been chosen to become the next director of Stony Brook University Cancer Center in New York. Hannun spent more than a decade as a professor and department chairman at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C., and as deputy director of the Hollings Cancer Center at the MUSC, which he helped to get designated as an official center of the National Cancer Institute. Hannun has said gaining that designation for the Stony Brook cancer center is a priority, along with building the university’s research enterprise, improving patient care and mentoring young scientists. Hannun was the 2011 winner of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Avanti Award in Lipids in recognition of his work on bioactive sphingolipids, a class of lipids that have emerged as critical regulators of a multitude of cell functions and, when defective, can cause disorders with significant medical effects.

UT-Southwestern’s Olson wins Steven C. Beering award for muscle research
Photo of Eric N. OlsonEric N. Olson, the founding chairman of the molecular biology department of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, won the 2012 Steven C. Beering Award, an honor bestowed by the Indiana University School of Medicine to recognize outstanding advancements in biomedical or clinical sciences. Olson researches muscle differentiation and has identified major genetic pathways controlling the development of the heart and other muscles. Olson will give his award lecture in October in Indianapolis. The award includes a medal and a $25,000 prize. Earlier this year, Olson won the 2012 Passano Award.

Nobel laureate Greider appointed to the National Medal of Science committee
Photo of Carol GreiderPresident Obama appointed Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University to the Committee on the National Medal of Science. In naming Greider and 11 others to the panel that evaluates nominees for the presidential award, Obama said, “I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to join this administration and serve our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.” Greider shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of telomerase. Stephen Desiderio, director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, said of Greider: “Carol is a dedicated advocate of discovery-based science. I can think of no one better suited to help our president celebrate the essential contributions of scientific discovery.” The National Medal of Science was established in 1959, during the Eisenhower administration, to recognize “outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical or engineering sciences.” Social and behavioral sciences were added to the mission by Congress in 1980.

Dixon, former ASBMB president, named foreign member of the Royal Society
Photo of Jack E. DixonJack E. Dixon was named one of eight new foreign members of The Royal Society. Dixon, who is a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and the outgoing vice president and chief scientific officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was granted lifetime membership for his “elegant studies (that) have radically advanced our understanding of cell signaling and the molecular basis of pathogenesis,“ the society said in a statement. Early in his career, Dixon was a leader in research on the biosynthesis and post-translational processing of polypeptide hormones. He subsequently became a pioneer in the structure and function of the protein tyrosine phosphatases and their roles in cellular signaling, and his group found that the bacterium Yersinia pestis harbors the most active PTPase known. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and served as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1996.


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