October 2012

Member update

Photo of James Spudich 
Photo of Ronald Vale 
Photo of Donald Brown 

Three members receive Lasker awards
Logo for the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation In early September, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced seven winners of the annual Lasker awards. Three members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology were among the recipients.

Members James Spudich of the Stanford University School of Medicine and Ronald Vale of the University of California, San Francisco, won the basic medical research prize for laying the foundation for the study of cytoskeletal motor proteins. Also a co-winner was Michael Sheetz, who, with Spudich, developed the first biochemical assay to reconstitute myosin motor activity in vitro and showed that myosin and ATP were enough to direct transport along actin filaments. Vale and Sheetz later looked into transport along a microtubule in giant squid axon extracts and discovered a new molecular motor — kinesin — that runs along that track. Ultimately, the trio set the stage for figuring out how motor proteins drive transport of a host of molecules that play roles in many cellular processes and unveiled key aspects of how molecular engines convert chemical energy into mechanical work.

Member Donald Brown of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Baltimore won his prize for exceptional achievement along with co-winner Thomas Maniatis. The foundation lauded Brown’s “leadership and citizenship in biomedical science, exemplified by fundamental discoveries concerning the nature of genes, by selfless commitment to young scientists and by disseminating revolutionary technologies to the scientific community.” Brown established the biological function of the organelle known as the nucleolus and co-discovered gene amplification. Those findings, along with his observations of how cells control gene activity, are credited with ushering in the recombinant DNA era. Outside the lab, Brown founded and led the Life Sciences Research Foundation, and Maniatis created the Molecular Cloning manual, which has been used all over the world. In a statement, the foundation said, “Through their relentless pursuit of the questions that fascinated them and their willingness to help their peers as well as students, they have achieved success and have set a high of exemplary behavior for members of the biomedical research community.”

Each Lasker prize category carries a purse of $250,000. The award ceremony was in late September in New York.
ASBMB journal-sponsored lectures
The Journal of Lipid Research sponsored six lipid research conferences around the world this year. Below are the researchers selected for award lectures:

  • Deborah M. Muoio, Duke University
    Keystone Symposium on the Pathogenesis of Diabetes: Emerging Insights into Molecular Mechanisms, January
  • Bruce Spiegelman, Harvard Medical School
    Deuel Lipid Conference, March
  • Ruth McPherson, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
    XIV International Symposium on Atherosclerosis, March
  • Robert Hegele, University of Western Ontario and Robarts Research Institute
    Kern Aspen Lipid Conference: Systems Biology, Lipidomics and Cardiometabolic Diseases, July
  • Julie Saba, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute
    FASEB Conference: Phospholipid Metabolism — Disease, Signal Transduction and Membrane Dynamics, July
  • Stephen G. Young, University of California, Los Angeles
    Frontiers in Lipid Biology, a joint conference by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the International Conference on the Bioscience of Lipids, and the Canadian Lipoprotein Conference, September

The journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics sponsored three meetings. Below are the researchers selected for those award lectures:

  • Angus Lamond, University of Dundee
    Keystone Symposium: Proteomics, Interactomes, May
  • Susan L. Lindquist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    The Human Proteome Organization’s 11th World Congress, September
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