Public Release:  Young scientist at Virginia Commonwealth University wins Avanti prize

Chalfant lauded for research productivity and emerging leadership in the study of lipids

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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IMAGE: Charles E. Chalfant, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, Va., is the winner of the Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research. view more

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BETHESDA, Md., April 7, 2011 - The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology named Charles E. Chalfant, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, Va., the winner of the nonprofit's Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research.

Chalfant, also a research career scientist at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center in Richmond, will present an award lecture, titled "Ceramide and Ceramide-1-phosphate: Enigmatic Lipids Generating New Signaling Paradigms," at the Experimental Biology 2011 conference in Room 202A of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Chalfant is also a research career scientist at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center in Richmond.

In support of Chalfant's nomination, Lina M. Obeid, professor of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said he "exemplifies the ideal young scientist in the lipid community."

"He is enthusiastic, always willing to help, participates in several important initiatives in the field of lipids and is clearly a highly positive influence to the lipid scientific community. These include organizing and obtaining NIH funding for lipid-related scientific conferences and serving on [National Institutes of Health] study sections as an advocate for lipid-related research," she wrote. "In fact, it is astounding how much Dr. Chalfant has been able to accomplish in advancing lipid research at such an early stage in his career while carrying a solid load of a productive scientist and academician."

Chalfant joined the faculty of VCU and began doing research at the VA medical center in 2003. He has been a member of ASBMB since 1999 and now serves as an editorial board member of the Journal of Lipid Research.

"His groundbreaking studies on regulation of alternative splicing of Bcl-X and caspase-9 by ceramide provided an answer to the long-sought-after function of ceramide in apoptosis. His seminal discovery that ceramide-1-phosphate is a direct allosteric regulator of cPLA2 has uncovered a novel function of this sphingolipid metabolite in regulating eicosanoid biosynthesis. These discoveries already have established him as a rising star in lipid research," said VCU colleague Sarah Spiegel, who nominated Chalfant for the award.

Chalfant completed his bachelor's degree in 1992 at the University of Tampa and his doctoral degree in 1997 at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. He also served as a research associate at Duke University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina.

The Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research consists of a plaque, $2,000 and travel expenses to present a lecture at the ASBMB annual meeting in April in Washington, D.C.

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About Experimental Biology 2011

Six scientific societies will hold their joint scientific sessions and annual meetings, known as Experimental Biology, from April 9-13, 2011, in Washington, D.C. This meeting brings together the leading researchers from a broad array of life science disciplines. The societies include the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), American Physiological Society (APS), American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), American Society for Nutrition (ASN), and American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

More information about EB2011 for the media can be found on the press page: http://experimentalbiology.org/content/PressInformation.aspx.

About the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with more than 12,000 members worldwide. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, at nonprofit research institutions and in industry. The Society's student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions. For more information about ASBMB, visit www.asbmb.org.

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