Award

Dunham recognized for ribosome regulation insights

She's the winner of the 2019 ASBMB Young Investigator Award
Kelsey Hughes
By Kelsey Hughes
April 1, 2019

In recognition of her contributions to the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, Christine Dunham, an associate professor of biochemistry at Emory University, has been selected to receive the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s 2019 ASBMB Young Investigator Award.

Christine Dunham

“It is an incredible honor to have our work on the regulation of protein synthesis recognized by our ASBMB colleagues. I have been honored to mentor and work alongside a diverse group of bright and creative researchers in my lab and this award is a recognition of their accomplishments. Science is challenging but working with such inspiring colleagues towards unexpected discoveries has been the greatest privilege of this wonderful career.”

— Christine Dunham

In the 17 years since her first publication examining hammerhead ribozyme biology, Dunham has published more than 30 original research papers. Dunham consistently has been recognized as a superb scientist, beginning with her graduate work with William Scott at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and continuing through her postdoctoral work with Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. Dunham’s recognition has only grown since she started her own group in 2008 at Emory.

Writing in support of the award nomination, Johns Hopkins University professor Rachel Green described Dunham as “an outstanding early investigator who has established a program focused on interesting and important (medically relevant) problems. Her early work at Emory has made substantial contributions to the field and is taking her in new and compelling directions.”

Dunham’s work has provided significant insight into the structural basis of ribosomal decoding and frame shifting, the bacterial toxin-antitoxin system and mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. Her work has touched on numerous aspects of translation, in particular the impact of tRNA and rRNA modifications on bacterial translation and antibiotic resistance.

Anita Corbett, an Emory colleague, nominated Dunham for the award, noting her far-reaching impact as a researcher. “Her work exploits her expertise in structural biology of the ribosome and touches on fundamental aspects of biochemistry and molecular biology,” Corbett wrote in her nomination letter. “Notably, her work highlights how focused mechanistic studies that employ biochemistry and molecular biology approaches can provide critically important insights to broad areas of biology. Her work gives perspective and highlights the impact of basic, fundamental studies of the utmost creativity and quality.”

Christopher Lima of the Sloan Kettering Institute, wrote a letter in support of the nomination, highlighting the importance of Dunham’s work. “Her investigations are fundamental to our biological understanding of the ribosome and its roles decoding the genome, and perhaps more intriguing, its unanticipated importance in adaptive processes such as bacterial persistence,” he wrote.

Dunham’s work is recognized widely and has garnered awards from numerous scientific organizations and funding agencies. She has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, award, as well as recognition as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease and the 2017 American Crystallographic Association’s Etter Early Career Award. One of her lab’s recent papers was a Journal of Biological Chemistry Editor’s Pick and a 2018 paper in PNAS won the Cozzarelli Prize.

Dunham will receive her award during the ASBMB annual meeting at the Experimental Biology 2019 conference in Orlando, where she will deliver an award lecture titled “Mechanisms of RNA-mediated translational control” at 2:15 p.m. April 7 in Valencia Ballroom A at the Orange County Convention Center.

Kelsey Hughes
Kelsey Hughes

Kelsey Hughes is a writer and RNA scientist living in Austin, Texas.

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in People

People highlights or most popular articles

Nautilus founder unspirals a new approach to proteomics
Feature

Nautilus founder unspirals a new approach to proteomics

Sept. 21, 2021

Parag Mallick may be trying to launch a competing proteomics technique, but you won’t catch him badmouthing mass spectrometers.

In memoriam: Stephen Prescott
In Memoriam

In memoriam: Stephen Prescott

Sept. 20, 2021

A former JBC associate editor and president of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, he wrote about his journey with cancer.

In memoriam: Teruko Tamura
In Memoriam

In memoriam: Teruko Tamura

Sept. 20, 2021

Trained as a verterinarian, Tamura made major contributions to cancer research focusing on the Src and FMS-like tyrosine kinases and signal transduction, gaining a worldwide reputation in the field.

Finding the right research path
Interview

Finding the right research path

Sept. 16, 2021

Karen Bornfeldt, an associate editor for the Journal of Lipid Research, investigates how diabetes increases cardiovascular disease risk.

Society news briefs: September 2021
Society News

Society news briefs: September 2021

Sept. 14, 2021

Find out everything that’s been going on lately with the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Doing policy work at scientific societies
Jobs

Doing policy work at scientific societies

Sept. 14, 2021

This is the second part in a series about scientists who've launched and established careers at nonprofit professional-development organizations.