July 2010

ASBMB Member Spotlight

Spotlight---VarshavskyVarshavsky Wins Prize for Biomedical Science

Alexander Varshavsky, the Howard and Gwen Laurie Smits professor of cell biology at the California Institute of Technology, has won the 2010 Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science for elucidating the process and biological significance of regulated protein degradation in living cells.

The Vilcek Prize has been awarded annually since 2006 to an established biomedical scientist whose work profoundly has advanced science over the course of his or her career. Varshavsky’s research on ubiquitin led to the discovery of its fundamentally important biological functions in living cells, showing that regulated protein degradation underlies major physiological processes. His laboratory continues to study ubiquitin-dependent processes, with a focus on the N-end rule pathway of protein degradation which relates the in vivo half-life of a protein to the identity of its N-terminal residue.

According to the Vilcek Foundation, “As a pioneer and leader in the field of ubiquitin research who has ushered it into the age of molecular genetics, Dr. Varshavsky also has helped establish this field as one of the most important and ‘ubiquitous’ in biomedical science, a point of convergence for disparate disciplines.”

Six ASBMB Members Named HHMI Professors

This past spring, six American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members were among the 13 faculty members from around the nation to be named as Howard Hughes Medical Institute professors in the 2010 round of awards. Launched in 2002, the HHMI professors program recognizes accomplished research scientists who also are deeply committed to making science more engaging for undergraduates. The program awards four-year grants aimed at fostering innovations in undergraduate science education at the professors’ home universities and providing other institutions with effective models for bridging research and teaching.

The ASBMB recipients are:

Catherine Drennan, professor of chemistry and biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sarah C. R. Elgin, Viktor Hamburger professor of arts and sciences and professor in the department of biology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Richard M. Losick, Harvard College professor and Maria Moors Cabot professor of biology at Harvard University.

Baldomero M. Olivera, distinguished professor at the University of Utah.

Scott A. Strobel, Henry Ford II professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry and professor of chemistry at Yale University.

Graham C. Walker, American Cancer Society research professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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