National Academy of Sciences honors three ASBMB members for major contributions
The National Academy of Sciences announced awards for 18 researchers earlier this year; three of those honored are members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Jeffrey I. Gordon of the Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology at Washington University in St. Louis won the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology for his pioneering studies characterizing the human gut microbiome and the genomic and metabolic foundations of its impact on health and disease. The $5,000 award, given every two years, is funded by the Foundation for Microbiology. Stuart H. Orkin of Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute won the Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal for his pioneering work determining the molecular bases of blood disorders and their molecular mechanisms, work that has yielded strategies for new therapies for hematologic diseases. The award consists of a $25,000 prize and a medal. Solomon H. Snyder of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine won the NAS Award in the Neurosciences for his groundbreaking work on opiate receptors and various other contributions to our library of knowledge about neurotransmitter-receptor interactions. The neuroscience award, issued only every three years, is worth $25,000. All 18 recipients of awards will be honored during the NAS annual meeting April 28.
Berg to lead new personalized medicine institute
ASBMB President Jeremy Berg was named the founding director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Personalized Medicine. In a statement, Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences, called the institute “one of our most far-reaching basic and clinically applicable research efforts,” adding that Berg’s leadership “will undoubtedly make the most of our strengths in identifying individual factors that influence disease and tailoring care.” Berg, the associate senior vice chancellor for science strategy and planning in the health sciences and a professor in the computational and systems biology department, said that though we are armed with many powerful tools that can help us understand disease susceptibility and treatment response, “our challenge is to integrate the tremendous complexity revealed by these tools to improve human health.” Berg continued: “We are in the early stages of one of the most important journeys in modern medicine.”
Messing joins UT-Austin as vice provost
Robert O. Messing in January joined The University of Texas at Austin as vice provost for biomedical sciences to help develop the new Dell School of Medicine. Messing, who spent more than two decades on the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, and more than half of that time as an administrator at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, will serve as a co-chair of the steering committee for the medical school. Messing “brings considerable expertise in building consensus across scientific disciplines,” said UT-Austin Provost and Executive Vice President Steven Leslie. “These are strengths we will need as we build synergies across our existing schools and colleges to create a medical school of the first class that addresses the health care needs of the 21st century.” Messing, a neurologist and neuroscientist, also will have an appointment at the university’s College of Pharmacy and serve as associate director of the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.
New members of the National Academy of Inventors
The National Academy of Inventors earlier this year granted 101 innovators NAI Charter Fellow status. Nine ASBMB members were among those inducted by U.S. Commissioner for Patents Margaret A. Focarino during the academy’s annual meeting in Tampa: