November 2009


Shorter Receives New Scholar Award


James Shorter, assistant professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, is the recipient of a 2009 Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award in Aging. Awardees are nominated by U.S. medical institutions and universities for outstanding promise in aging research. The award provides up to $100,000 per year for a four-year period to a maximum of 25 scholars.

Shorter studies how yeast can be used to look at lethal nerve-degeneration disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which are associated with protein aggregation. His major focus is Hsp104, a protein-remodeling factor that disaggregates denatured proteins and returns them to normal function. Shorter is attempting to understand the mechanistic basis of how the Hsp104 structure enables these disaggregation activities and other prion-regulatory functions. He also is trying to identify proteins with similar functions to Hsp104 and is looking at how small molecules disrupt amyloid structure.

Taylor Awarded Vanderbilt Prize

Susan TaylorFormer American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology President Susan S. Taylor has been awarded the 2009 Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science. The award honors women who have "made significant advances in the biological and biomedical sciences and have contributed positively to the mentorship of other women in science." The prize carries a purse of $25,000 and a scholarship in the name of the honoree for a woman entering graduate studies at Vanderbilt University.

Taylor is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego, a senior fellow at the San Diego Supercomputer Center and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Her work focuses on cyclic adenosine monophosphate-dependent protein kinase, or protein kinase A. In 1991, Taylor and colleagues at UCSD solved the three-dimensional crystal structure of the first protein kinase – protein kinase A. The structure continues to serve as a prototype for the entire protein kinase family. In parallel, Taylor solved structures of the protein's regulatory subunits.

Taylor, who was ASBMB president in 1995, also recently received the 2010 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Excellence in Science Award.

ASBMB Members Named Biophysical Society Fellows

Clore Ferguson-Miller Wand

ASBMB members G. Marius Clore of the National Institutes of Health, Shelagh Ferguson-Miller of Michigan State University and Andrew Joshua Wand of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have been named to the 2009 class of Biophysical Society fellows. The award, given to six scientists this year, is designed to recognize distinguished members who have demonstrated excellence in science and have contributed to the expansion of the field of biophysics. The fellows will be honored at a ceremony during the Biophysical Society's annual meeting in February.

According to the Biophysical Society, Clore, who works in the laboratory of chemical physics at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, was selected for "pioneering contributions in the development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for structural characterization of biological macromolecules."

Ferguson-Miller, chairwoman and distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in East Lansing, Mich., was chosen for "contributions to understanding the structure and function of integral membrane proteins involved in respiratory electron transport, as well as detergent-based methodologies for isolation, purification and crystallization of membrane proteins."

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