October 2013

Member update

‘Still solving big problems’

Leroy Hood

The editor of the MIT Technology Review, Jason Pontin, in late August highlighted American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology member Leroy Hood in his list of top innovators over the age of 70. “We meet extraordinary older innovators all the time, who after a lifetime of creativity are still solving big problems, generating wealth or expanding our conception of what it means to be human,” Pontin wrote. Hood, who is 74, is president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. Hood developed the automated DNA sequencer, which made possible the mapping of the human genome and revolutionized the field of genomics.
Barbour wins achievement award for research, teaching 

Suzanne Barbour

Suzanne Barbour has won the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s WISDM Professional Achievement Award for her teaching, university service and research. VCU officials noted that Barbour, a member of the ASBMB Education and Professional Development Committee, is a dedicated mentor and proponent for minority access to research careers. “Her mentoring goes well beyond undergraduate students to include high-school students through postdoctoral scholars,” said Ann Nichols-Casebolt, VCU’s associate vice president for research development. She continued: “She has worked with them in her lab, taken them to research conferences, and provided them opportunities to learn the roles and responsibilities of a scientist.”
Chen named endowed chair at Penn State

Gong Chen

Gong Chen at Pennsylvania State University was appointed the Verne M. Willaman chair in July in recognition of his research and teaching. A neuroscientist studying brain development and repair, Chen and his group have developed an approach to regenerate mouse neurons after injury or Alzheimer’s disease and are exploring whether the approach can be used in humans who’ve suffered stroke, brain injuries or neurodegenerative diseases. Chen’s team also is using induced pluripotent stem cells, harvested from human skin cells and then matured into brain cells, to better understand neurodegenerative disorders. Chen previously received the Ohse Award for Excellent Basic Research from Yale University and a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health.
In memoriam: Darrell Neilsen Ward (1924 – 2013)

Darrell Neilsen Ward

Darrell Neilsen Ward, who led the biochemistry department at the now-University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for two decades, died in June at the age of 89. Originally from Utah and known to love a good practical joke, Ward is said to have fibbed about his date of birth to join the Marine Corps and serve in World War II at the age of 17. He took advantage of the GI Bill and attended Utah State University for his undergraduate work and then went on to earn his master’s degree and Ph.D. at Stanford University. He moved his growing family in 1952 to do a postdoctoral stint at Cornell University and then in 1956 joined MD Anderson. It was Ward’s lab that discovered that the luteinizing hormone is a heterodimer rather than a homodimer, and for that work he won the Endocrine Society’s Ayerst Award for Distinguished Service. He was a longtime member of the editorial board of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

A pat on the back for postdocs
To observe National Postdoc Appreciation Week, ASBMB staffers headed over to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine on Sept. 20. Ben Corb, ASBMB’s public affairs director, and Shaila Kotadia, an ASBMB science policy fellow, delivered pizza and gave thanks.
ASBMB staff at Johns Hopkins
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