March 2010

ASBMB Creates the Stadtman Award


The new ASBMB award for “great basic science” honors the accomplishments of Earl and Thressa Stadtman.

From the moment they first set foot on the National Institutes of Health campus in 1950 as a young research couple, Earl and Thressa Stadtman set forth on a six decade journey of outstanding biochemical research and discovery.

Their efforts helped elucidate the role of coenzyme A in fatty acid metabolism, provide an understanding of reversible interconvertible enzyme cascades in cellular regulation and cell signaling via a detailed study of glutamine synthesis, uncover the biochemical roles of free radicals and reactive oxygen species and provide mechanistic insights into vitamin B12 biochemistry and the role of selenoproteins— a body of work that established them as one of the greatest scientific tandems in history.

Of all their great achievements at the bench, however, perhaps one of the strongest contributions the Stadtmans left to the science community is the body of more than 100 trainees they mentored— a group that includes a former director of Merck (P. Roy Vagelos), two Nobel laureates (Michael S. Brown and Stanley B. Prusiner) and countless other scientific luminaries— who owe their success to taking in Earl and Thressa’s unique approach to training, known simply as “The Stadtman Way.”

So, in honor of this first family of biochemistry (and in memory of Earl, who passed away on Jan. 7, 2008, at the age of 88), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology will begin presenting the Earl and Thressa Stadtman Award at the 2011 annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Award

The Earl and Thressa Stadtman Award recognizes a scientist for his or her outstanding achievement in basic research in the fields encompassed by the ASBMB. The award will be given annually and will alternate between an established scientist and a young investigator with 10 years or less of post-postdoctoral experience, including medical residency and fellowship. The established scientist will be honored as “The Earl and Thressa Stadtman Distinguished Scientist,” and the younger investigator will be honored as “The Earl and Thressa Stadtman Scholar.” Nominations must originate from an ASBMB member, but the nominee need not be an ASBMB member. The award consists of a plaque, a $10,000 cash award and travel expenses for the recipient to the ASBMB annual meeting to present a lecture.

This award, which honors outstanding achievement in basic research in the fields encompassed by the ASBMB, was established by the Stadtmans’ friends and colleagues as a way to give back some of their generous spirit and preserve their incredible legacies as scientists and mentors.

First announced during the Stadtman Symposium held in April in Bethesda, the award now has been finalized, and nominations for the inaugural recipient are ready to be taken.

Much like the diverse breadth of research that the Stadtmans carried out in their lab over their long careers, this award is open to a broad range of fields, so long as they fall under the category of “great basic science.” Also, a unique feature of the Stadtman award is that the winner will alternate each year between an established researcher and young investigator, reflecting the assistance and advice the Stadtmans provided not just to their own trainees but to scientific colleagues of all ages.

In essence, the Stadtman award is a perfect embodiment of Earl and Thressa Stadtman.

Nick Zagorski ( is a science writer at ASBMB.

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