April 2013

Member update

de Lange, Cantley, Yamanaka win Breakthrough Prizes 

Titia de Lange  Lewis Cantley  Shinya Yamanaka 
de Lange  Cantley  Yamanaka 

Three American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members in February each won a Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which recognizes achievement and focuses on curing disease and prolonging human life. Titia de Lange, director of the Anderson Center for Cancer Research at Rockefeller University, was recognized “for her work on telomeres, illuminating how they protect chromosome ends and their role in genome instability in cancer.” Lewis C. Cantley, professor and director of the cancer center at Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, won for the discovery of the PI-3 kinase pathway and its role in cancer metabolism. Shinya Yamanaka, a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes and a professor at Kyoto University in Japan, was honored for his work transforming adult stem cells into embryolike stem cells. The prizes are awarded by the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, celebrating scientists and encouraging the pursuit of science careers.
Protein Society recognizes van der Donk, Doudna, Shao 

WIlfred van der Donk  Jennifer Doudna  Feng Shao 
van der Donk  Doudna  Shao 

In advance of its annual conference, The Protein Society selected three ASBMB members for honors. Wilfred van der Donk, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, won the 2013 Emil Thomas Kaiser Award for his use of synthetic organic chemistry and protein chemistry to examine enzymatic reactions. Jennifer Doudna, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology at the University of California, Berkeley, was one of two recipients of the 2013 Hans Neurath Award for her study of three-dimensional structures of noncoding RNA to investigate the regulation of protein products by ribonucleoproteins. Feng Shao, investigator at the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing, won the 2013 Protein Society Young Investigator Award for his work investigating how pathogenic bacteria modulate signaling cascades and evade host immunity. The three winners will be recognized at the 27th Annual Symposium of The Protein Society in July.

Max A. Lauffer, 1914 – 2012
Max LaufferMax A. Lauffer, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, died at his home in Londonderry Township last August, just shy of his 98th birthday. As an associate at Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research from 1937 to 1944, Lauffer published some of the first pictures of a virus ever created, from his study of the physical characteristics of tobacco mosaic virus. Lauffer later established the biophysics department at the university, where he was a professor from 1944 to 1986, and created a virus research program to study TMV and other viruses using biophysical methods. He also helped found the Biophysical Society and served as a member of the first National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council of the National Institutes of Health and as a consultant to the U.S. surgeon general.

Guengerich honored with Society of Toxicology Merit Award
F. Peter Guengerich F. Peter Guengerich has won the Society of Toxicology Merit Award for 2013. Guengerich, a professor of biochemistry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, has been pursuing for three decades a better understanding of how cytochrome P450 enzymes metabolize drugs and carcinogens, the bioactivation of halogenated hydrocarbons and polymerase interactions with carcinogen-modified DNA. Guengerich is an associate editor of Chemical Research in Toxicology and The Journal of Biological Chemistry. He also is on the editorial boards of Critical Reviews in Toxicology and Nature Reviews, Drug Discovery. Guengerich gave his award lecture, “Bioactivation, Covalent Binding, and Toxicity: A Personal Odyssey,” at the society’s annual meeting in March in San Antonio.
Masters named president-elect of TAMEST
Bettie Sue Masters Bettie Sue Masters was named president-elect of The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas in February. Masters, a former president of the ASBMB, holds the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry in the biochemistry department at the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Kenneth L. Kalkwarf, president ad interim of the Health Science Center, emphasized that the appointment “recognizes her career contributions as a scientist, her willingness to speak and serve on important issues, both in Texas and on the national and world stage, and not least, her mentorship of younger scientists.” Masters, a member of TAMEST’s founding board of directors, said, “This is, indeed, an honor and a privilege for me to serve in this capacity for TAMEST, a unique organization in the United States … I hope that this organization increasingly becomes a source of information about science, engineering and technology for the public and our state legislators.” Masters’ term begins in 2014. TAMEST, which promotes education in science, technology, engineering and math and recognition of rising stars in science, as well as examination of energy and environmental issues, has a membership of more than 250 National Academies members and Nobel laureates. Nobel laureates Michael S. Brown and Richard Smalley were its founding co-chairs.

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