Russell also has revealed important aspects of the regulation of this cholesterol breakdown and identified the genes responsible for several diseases characterized by abnormal cholesterol and lipid metabolism. And, he identified 24-hydroxylase as the enzyme responsible for most cholesterol turnover in the brain and recently demonstrated that 24-hydroxylase deficiency is linked to defects in memory and learning. The biochemical underpinnings of this connection are currently a strong focus of his lab’s efforts.
“David has an uncanny insight into biochemical processes and seems always able to come up with a critical experiment to test a novel finding,” says colleague Edward A. Dennis, distinguished professor of chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacology at the University of California, San Diego. “His current work on the metabolic role of oxysterols will clearly lead to new science.”
“In addition, as part of the LIPID MAPS Consortium, I have had an opportunity to work closely with David and watch firsthand as he developed a complex lipidomics analysis of the sterol category of lipids,” Dennis adds. “From carefully designed systems biology approaches, he made insightful conclusions and knew exactly how to follow up with imaginative experiments to probe the depths of what underlie his observations.”
The 2010 Avanti Award in Lipids will add to a long and impressive list of honors Russell has received for his studies on lipid metabolism and cholesterol breakdown. He has been awarded the American Heart Association Louis N. Katz Award, the Texas Instruments Kirby Science Place Award, the Endocrine Society Ernst Oppenheimer Award and the Falk Foundation Adolph Windaus Prize, among others. He also was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.
Angela Hopp (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing editor for special projects at ASBMB. Nick Zagorski (email@example.com) is a science writer at ASBMB.