Member Spotlight

Calling all lipid researchers!

The LRD wants YOU to participate in our annual survey of lipid expertise. We’re building a database of possible grant reviewers to pass on to program officers at funding agencies. If you’ve ever complained that your study section doesn’t know enough about lipids, here’s your chance to fix the problem. Click here to start the survey, which takes less than 5 minutes. In the words of Membership Committee chair Binks Wattenberg, “The grant you save may be your own.”

Rock joins American Academy of Microbiology

Charles “Chuck” Rock was one of 109 new fellows elected to the American Academy of Microbiology this January. Rock, a professor in the Infectious Diseases department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, studies regulation of prokaryotic lipid metabolism.

Hannun and Obeid share Lifetime Achievement Award

The Eicosanoid Research Foundation has announced that Yusuf Hannun and Lina Obeid of Stony Brook University will receive its 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award for their work on ceramide physiology and the role of sphingolipids in aging. The award will be presented at the foundation’s October meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida. Congratulations, sphingolipid pioneers!

Early-career researchers in the spotlight

Five early-career investigators from the labs of JLR editorial board members will present their work in a special symposium on Monday, April 8 at the ASBMB annual meeting in Orlando. Meet these promising scientists and learn more about their work in a series of articles in ASBMB Today.

Vance’s seminal work recognized in Nature feature

Jean Vance of the University of Alberta in Edmonton stars in a feature article from Nature titled “How secret conversations inside cells are transforming biology.” Vance’s finding that phospholipid synthetic enzymes cluster at contact points between the ER and mitochondria, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, was an early landmark in studies of communication between organelles.

Ntambi to join ASBMB Council

James Ntambi, professor of Biochemistry and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a longtime member of the Lipid Research Division, was elected to the Council of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Ntambi’s research focuses on the role of stearoyl-CoA desaturases in physiology.


George Carman: An introduction to the ASBMB’s Lipid Research Division


Cho joins AAAS 

ASBMB congratulates Lipid Research Division member Wonhwa Cho of the University of Illinois, Chicago, on his induction as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science! Cho is an international leader in lipid biophysics and this award recognizes his pioneering work to develop biophysical approaches to understand the mechanisms of cellular lipid-protein, and lipid-mediated protein-protein interactions. He developed numerous critical technologies for the in situ quantitative analyses of these processes on single molecule and systems biological levels.

Journal of Lipid Research names new editors-in-chief

The ASBMB announced Oct. 31 that LRD member Kerry-Anne Rye of the University of New South Wales Sydney and Nicholas O. Davidson of Washington University in St. Louis will be the next editors-in-chief of the Journal of Lipid Research.

Rye runs the lipid research group at the School of Medical Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW Sydney. She has been an associate editor for JLR since 2008. Davidson leads the gastroenterology division and the digestive disease research center at Wash U’s medical school and has been an associate editor for JLR since 2011. Their joint five-year term as co-editors will begin Jan. 1.

Read the full announcement.

Congratulations to the 2018 Lipid Division Award Lecturers!

Be sure to attend the awardees’ lectures at the 2019 ASBMB Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with Experimental Biology, in April in Orlando.

Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research

Shu Sin Chng

Shu Sin Chng, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, won the Walter Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipids. The award was established by ASBMB’s Lipid Research Division and recognizes outstanding research contributions in the area of lipids by young investigators who are assistant professors (or equivalent) with no more than 10 years of experience since receiving their degrees (Ph.D. and/or M.D.). It includes a $2,000 cash prize.

Avanti Award in Lipids

Vytas Bankaitis

Vytas Bankaitis, a professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, won the Avanti Award in Lipids, which recognizes outstanding research contributions in the area of lipids and includes a $3,000 cash prize. Bankaitis is a past director of the ASBMB Lipid Research Division. He has served on the ASBMB’s meeting program planning committee as well.

Hobbs wins Institut de France Grand Prix Scientifique

Helen Hobbs
Helen Hobbs

Helen Hobbs, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, received the Institut de France Grand Prix Scientifique, one of the most prestigious prizes for cardiovascular research. Hobbs is known for her discovery that mutations in the protein PCSK9 lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol through population genetics research in the Dallas Heart Study, which she co-founded, and has since identified further metabolic risk genes in that cohort. Hobbs shared the award with Catherine Boileau of France and Nabil Seidah of Canada, who made related discoveries about the link between PCSK9 and cholesterol metabolism.

Cantley Receives JLR Lectureship

Lewis Cantley, of Weill Cornell Medicine, presented the Journal of Lipid Research/Keynote lecture at a FASEB conference on phospholipids in health and disease in Colorado in July. Cantley’s lecture was titled, “PI 3-Kinase: Linking obesity, insulin resistance and cancer.”

In memoriam: Yves Louis Marcel

Yves Louis Marcel

Yves Louis Marcel, an emeritus professor at the University of Ottawa, passed away early in 2018. Marcel studied high-density lipoproteins, the structure of ApoA1, and reverse cholesterol transport. He was founder and chief scientific officer of the Atherosclerosis Research Group at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, and directed the university’s High-Density Lipoprotein Biology Laboratory until his retirement in 2013.

Tybjaerg-Hansen receives JLR Lectureship

The Journal of Lipid Research Distinguished Lectureship was presented to Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen at the International Symposium on Atherosclerosis 2018 in Toronto. Dr. Tybjaerg-Hansen is a clinical professor at the University of Copenhagen, specializing in population genetics of metabolic diseases. Her lecture was titled “Interrelationship between lipids, liver and cardiovascular disease.” JLR Associate Editor Dr. Henry Ginsberg of Columbia University presented the award.

Jean Vance shines a light on phospholipid history

Jean E. Vance of the University of Alberta has published a new review article in the Journal of Lipid Research’s “Living History of Lipids” review series. It is a comprehensive history of the discovery and characterization of two ubiquitous phospholipids: phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylethanolamine. PS and PE captured Vance’s interest when she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego, working in the lab of Daniel Steinberg. (Steinberg wrote the first installment in the “Living History” series).

“My interest in what I felt were the rather neglected phospholipids, PS and PE, arose from some of my preliminary data suggesting that phospholipids could be compartmentalized into distinct pools in cells, perhaps due to specific inter-organelle lipid trafficking events,” Vance recalled. “(M)y research evolved into studying the biosynthesis, cell biology and functions of PS and PE in mammalian cells.” Her investigation into how PS is transferred from its site of synthesis in the ER into mitochondria, where it is decarboxylated to form PE, led to the discovery of mitochondria-associated membranes, or MAMs.

Helen Hobbs’ Harrington honor

Helen Hobbs, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, won the 2018 Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine. Established in 2014 by the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the prize recognizes scientists who have conducted groundbreaking and creative research with potential for clinical impact.

Hobbs was honored for her discovery, together with co-primary investigator Jonathan Cohen, of a population-level link between variations in the gene PCSK9 and reductions in low-density lipoprotein level and cardiovascular disease risk. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9, the protein encoded by the PCSK9 gene, directs the LDL receptor for lysosomal degradation instead of endosomal recycling. The discovery has led to   new class of drugs for high cholesterol.

Hobbs has served on the faculty at UT Southwestern since 1987. There, she founded the Dallas Heart Study, a multiethnic, population-based study seeking to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heart disease.

John E. Burke receives Shaw award from the ASBMB

John Burke

John E. Burke, an assistant professor in the department of biochemistry and microbiology at the University of Victoria, received the Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research at the 2018 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting. The award recognizes his work on the structure and signal transduction of lipid kinases and phosphatases, especially in the PI3K and PI4K family.

“I am tremendously honored to be awarded the Walt Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research,” said Burke. “I am extremely appreciative to the nominators and ASBMB. This award is only possible due to the work and support of my incredible network of mentors, trainees and collaborators.” Congratulations, Dr. Burke!

Did you miss his award lecture, “Probing the structure, dynamics and regulation of lipid signaling enzymes,” at ASBMB2018? Listen here on Soundcloud.

Congratulations to Dennis Voelker on winning the ASBMB’s Avanti award!

Dennis Voelker

LRD member Dennis R. Voelker received the Avanti Award in Lipids at ASBMB’s 2018 Annual Meeting for his seminal contributions to lipid biology. Voelker, the Director of Research of the pulmonary division of the department of medicine at National Jewish and a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Colorado, Denver, has studied phospholipid-protein interactions for 37 years. He has worked on topics from lipid transport between organelles to membrane assembly. At present his lab studies phospholipid regulation of innate immunity. If you missed Dr. Voelker’s award lecture, entitled “Phospholipid regulation of inflammatory processes and viral infection,” you can listen here.

Binks Wattenberg on the Lipid Research Division of the ASBMB

Congratulations to the 2017 Lipid Division Award Lecturers!

Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research

Gregory A. Fairn, St. Michael’s University
Molecular probes to study the subcellular localization
and dynamics of phospholipids and cholesterol

Avanti Award in Lipids
Volker Haucke, Leibniz Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie
Phosphoinositide conversion in the endolysosomal system