Blumberg wins Kirschstein diversity award for work with the hearing impaired

Anna Shipman
By Anna Shipman
Feb. 22, 2013

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has named Peter M. Blumberg of the National Institutes of Health the winner of the 2013 Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award. The award recognizes outstanding scientists who show a strong commitment to mentoring and encouraging underrepresented minorities to enter the sciences. Blumberg has earned this award by reaching out to the deaf community and recruiting deaf students into his lab to train them for scientific careers.

Peter Blumberg

“The disabled are the minority that includes all of us, regardless of our race or ethnic group. But, ironically, it is the group that defines no one, because each of us, regardless of label, brings a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. It is only the team of individuals that may be strong everywhere.”
Blumberg noticed that at scientific meetings there was an absence of interpreters for the hearing impaired and decided there should be a change to promote the inclusion of this underrepresented group in the sciences. He taught himself American Sign Language and recruited deaf and hearing-impaired students from Gallaudet University, the only four-year college in the world focused on deaf education, for research positions in his lab.

Blumberg also arranges for interpreters to be present at all events his students attend and collaborates with Derek Braun, who did a postdoctoral fellowship in his lab and now has his own lab at Gallaudet. Within his own lab, Blumberg encourages students who are not hearing impaired to learn ASL and other ways to communicate with deaf and hearing-impaired lab members to facilitate a nurturing learning environment for everyone.

Q. Jane Wang, a former research associate, says of Blumberg, “He is not only a world-renowned leading scientist in the field of diacylglycerol/protein kinase C signaling but also an exceptional mentor that has taught and encouraged many underrepresented minorities to enter the scientific enterprise and pursue a successful career in science.”

Blumberg has mentored 15 deaf and hearing-impaired students and has assisted in the publication of 54 papers by hearing-impaired scientists.

“Dr. Blumberg’s work with deaf scientists and their outstanding achievements have produced crucial role models for the deaf community and have shown them and the hearing world that the deaf can go far beyond what is typically imagined,” says Stuart H. Yuspa, chief of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute.

Blumberg received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1974. He took a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Phillip W. Robbins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974 and in 1975 joined Harvard Medical School as an assistant professor. In 1981, he became chief of the Molecular Mechanisms of Tumor Progression section of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics at the NIH, where he has remained since.

Blumberg will receive his award during the Experimental Biology 2013 conference in Boston, where he will deliver an award lecture. The presentation will take place at 9:05 a.m. April 21 in the Boston Convention Center.


Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Anna Shipman
Anna Shipman

Anna Shipman received her B.S. in biology–biotechnology from Missouri Western State University and was a Ph.D. student in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri–Kansas City when she wrote this article.

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in People

People highlights or most popular articles

In memoriam: Clark Bublitz
In Memoriam

In memoriam: Clark Bublitz

Sept. 26, 2022

He was a metabolic enzymologist and a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology since 1963.

Understanding protein dynamics to design better drugs
Research Spotlight

Understanding protein dynamics to design better drugs

Sept. 21, 2022

C. Denise Okafor is an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State and recipient of an NSF CAREER award.

Computation is the new experiment
Annual Meeting

Computation is the new experiment

Sept. 20, 2022

This symposium, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Structural Biology, Drug Design and Systems Biology. will be part of #DiscoverBMB 2023 in March.

Kuriyan to take over as dean;  Johnson wins Pew scholarship
Member News

Kuriyan to take over as dean; Johnson wins Pew scholarship

Sept. 19, 2022

Awards, promotions, milestones and more. Find out what's going on in the lives of ASBMB members.

'Keep developing your expertise'

'Keep developing your expertise'

Sept. 16, 2022

Anand Balakrishnan is a biochemist at Enanta Pharmaceuticals. He leads a team that has worked on respiratory syncytial virus, SARS-CoV-2 and hepatitis B virus.

Society news briefs: September 2022
Society News

Society news briefs: September 2022

Sept. 15, 2022

If you’re a member, you should be in the know. Find out everything that’s been going on lately with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.