July 2010

ASBMB Member Spotlight

ASBMB members in the spotlight this month include Carolyn Bertozzi, Charleen T. Chu, Catherine C. Fenselau, Joanne Stubbe, Christopher T. Walsh and Alexander Varshavsky.

Spotlight---BertozziBertozzi Awarded Lemelson-MIT Prize

Carolyn Bertozzi, T. Z. and Irmgard Chu distinguished professor of chemistry and professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has been awarded the 2010 Lemelson-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Prize. She accepted the prize and presented her research at MIT during the Lemelson-MIT Program’s fourth annual EurekaFest this past June.

Bertozzi’s research interests lie at the intersection of chemistry and biology, with a particular focus on understanding the relationship of cell surface glycosylation to normal cell function and to human disease. Bertozzi has designed experiments that have contributed to the way in which researchers can profile changes in cell-surface glycosylation associated with cancer, inflammation and bacterial infection. She is most noted for her pioneering work in the field of bioorthogonal chemistry on living systems.

In addition to her Berkeley appointment, Bertozzi is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and director of the Molecular Foundry, a nanoscience institute at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Bertozzi.

Spotlight---ChuChu Receives Outstanding Investigator Award

Charleen T. Chu, associate professor of neuropathology in the pathology department at the University of Pittsburgh, is the 2010 winner of the American Society for Investigative Pathology Outstanding Investigator Award. The award recognizes mid-career investigators with demonstrated excellence in research in experimental pathology. Chu presented her award lecture titled “Parkinson’s Disease: Converging Insights from Toxin and Genetic Models” at the Experimental Biology 2010 in Anaheim, Calif.

Chu studies the role of kinases in age-related neurodegenerative diseases with an emphasis on mitochondrial dysfunction and macroautophagy. Her work highlights the dual role of autophagy in neuronal injury. While autophagy reduces cell death by eliminating damaged mitochondria, it also elicits retraction and simplification of the neuritic arbor in multiple toxin and genetic Parkinson’s disease models. Her laboratory’s discovery of a novel phosphorylation site on the autophagy mediator LC3, which prevents neurite shortening, offers a potential mechanism by which neuroprotective kinases act to restore anabolic-catabolic balance.

Chu’s other recent honors include induction to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the 2010 Carnegie Science Award for Emerging Female Scientist, which recognizes a scientific leader whose cutting-edge work is inspiring change in math, science or technology.

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