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Honors for Wright, Chiu and Flanegan

ASBMB Today Staff
May 6, 2024

Wright wins Killam Prize

Portrait of Gerry Wright
Gerry Wright

Gerry Wright has received the 2024 Killam Prize in Health Sciences for his research in antimicrobial resistance. The Killam Prizes are awarded to active Canadian scholars who have sustained research excellence and made a significant impact in their respective fields in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering.

Wright is a professor of biochemistry and biomedical studies and and holds the Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Infection and Anti-Infective Research at McMaster University. His lab focuses on antibiotic resistance and aims to identify new antibiotics and antimicrobial strategies. He defined the concept of a pan-bacterial resistome, which encompasses all antibiotic resistance elements in microbial communities.    

Wright was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2012 and the American Academy of Microbiology in 2013. In 2016, he was named a McMaster Distinguished University Professor.

“Dr. Wright is one of the most productive, impactful, and accomplished (antimicrobial resistance) researchers, not just in Canada, but the world,” Paul O’Byrne, dean and vice president of the faculty of health sciences at McMaster, said in a release. “Through more than 30 years of ground-breaking research, he has developed a body of work that has unequivocally informed the global response to drug-resistant infections, which will save countless lives in the years to come.”

Chiu wins mentoring award

portrait of Joanna Chiu
Joanna Chiu

Joanna Chiu has received the Distinction in Student Mentoring Award from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America. Recipients are chosen based on the extent and quality of their accomplishments in entomology student recruitment, advising and training.

Chiu is a professor and the chair of entomology and nematology at the University of California, Davis. Her lab studies the molecular mechanisms that underlie animal circadian rhythm as well as how organisms sense seasons. She also aims to develop new strategies to control invasive insects. Her many awards and honors include the 2022 UC Davis Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring Award and the 2023 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research.

“Dr. Chiu is noted for providing her trainees, many of whom are from underrepresented groups, with very effective career and academic advising,” Steve Nadler, a professor of entomology and nematology at UC Davis who nominated Chiu, said in a press release. “Under her tutelage, her students are first authors of publications in prestigious journals. Even after her undergraduate and graduate students leave the university and settle into their careers, she continues to provide guidance and advice to them.”

Chiu received the award in April at the PBESA meeting in Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii.

Room named for Flanegan

A conference room and lounge at the University of Florida has been named in honor of James (Bert) Flanegan, an American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology member for more than 20 years. Flanegan’s son and daughter-in-law, Ryan and Ella, bestowed a gift, which will finance the renovation of a room in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at UF. The renovated space will facilitate faculty and student collaboration that will enhance research, innovation and discovery.

Bert Flanegan and family at room dedication
University of Florida
James (Bert) Flanegan with his wife, Julie, and their son and daughter-in-law, Ryan and Ella, at the dedication event in January.

Flanegan is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at UF. He is an authority on the biochemical and genetic mechanisms regulating the replication of small RNA viruses, including poliovirus and coxsackievirus. He is committed to help eradicate polio and develop a noninfectious virus-like particle vaccine. His lab has received funding from a Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Award and a World Health Organization Consortium grant.

“Dr. Flanegan impacted the department in many ways, including his outstanding leadership as chair, a mentor to trainees and faculty, impactful lectures in the classroom, and world-class foundational discoveries in polio research,” Matthew Gentry, professor and chair of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at UF, said in a press release. “The gift from Ryan and Ella allows us to renovate the conference room and lounge while memorializing his many accomplishments by naming the rooms after him.”

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ASBMB Today Staff

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