Public Release:  12 scientists named ASBMB award winners

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in July named 12 scientists the winners of its annual awards. The newly announced recipients and one winner from 2011 will give talks at the society's annual meeting April 21-25 in San Diego.

Stuart Kornfeld, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, won the 2012 Herbert Tabor/Journal of Biological Chemistry Lectureship. The award recognizes outstanding lifetime scientific achievements and was established to honor the many contributions of Herbert Tabor to both the society and the journal, for which he served as editor for nearly 40 years and now serves as co-editor.

Lovell Jones, a professor at both the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Houston as well as director of the joint Dorothy I. Height Center for Health Equity & Evaluation Research, won the Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award. This award honors an outstanding scientist who has shown a strong commitment to the encouragement of under-represented minorities to enter the scientific enterprise and/or to the effective mentorship of those within it. Jones has been devoted to diversity issues in the scientific community, with a major emphasis on both addressing the under-representation of minorities at all levels in academia, industry and government as well as health disparities in the U.S.

Susan Marqusee, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and director of Berkeley's California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3-Berkeley), has been named the winner of the William C. Rose Award. The award recognizes her outstanding contributions to biochemical and molecular biological research, particularly in the field of protein folding, and her demonstrated commitment to the training of younger scientists.

Barry Honig, Columbia University professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, won the DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences for his work in macromolecular interactions in biology. The award is given to a scientist for innovative and accessible development or application of computer technology to enhance research in the life sciences at the molecular level. Honig's software tools and their underlying conceptual basis are widely used by the general biological research community to analyze the role of electrostatics in macromolecular interactions.

George M. Carman, professor and director of the Center for Lipid Research at Rutgers University, won the Avanti Award in Lipids. Carman has made many contributions to the understanding of the enzymology and metabolism of phospholipids, and, most recently, his laboratory discovered the molecular function of the fat-regulating protein lipin as a phosphatidic acid phosphatase enzyme.

Peter Espenshade, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, won the Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research. The award recognizes outstanding research contributions in the area of lipids by young investigators with no more than 15 years of experience since receiving their degree (Ph.D. and/or M.D). Espenshade researches the basic mechanisms of cholesterol sensing and has developed the simple eukaryotic cell S. pombe as an accessible genetic model for the investigation of cholesterol homeostasis and is pursing the pathways controlling this fundamental cell process.

Peggy Farnham, a professor at the University of Southern California, won the Herbert A. Sober Lectureship. The award, issued every other year, recognizes outstanding biochemical and molecular biological research, with particular emphasis on development of methods and techniques to aid in research. Farnham studies chromatin regulation and its control of transcription-factor binding and function, and she is a pioneer in the development of the chromatin immunoprecipitation technique.

Xiaodong Wang, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute alumni investigator and researcher at the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing, has been named the winner of the ASBMB-Merck Award. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to research in biochemistry and molecular biology. Wang studies the functions of cell organelles and is credited with the discovery of a new function of mitochondria in programmed cell death.

David Sabatini, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, won the Earl and Tressa Stadtman Scholar Award, given to a scientist with 10 years or less of post-postdoctoral experience, including medical residency and fellowship. Sabatini is a leader in the ongoing elucidation of the mTOR pathway, a master regulator of growth. He is also a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Kim Orth, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, has been named the winner of the ASBMB Young Investigator Award. Orth's most notable achievements include the discovery of novel posttranslational modifications exploited by the virulence factors secreted by bacterial pathogens. One of these, YopJ from Yersinia, the causal agent of the Plague, transfers an acetyl group from acetyl CoA to a serine or threonine hydroxyl in mammalian MAP kinase kinase, inactivating the enzyme. Another virulence factor, VopS from Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a cause of debilitating diarrhea, is an enzyme that AMPylates (transfers AMP) to tyrosine, serine or threonine hydroxyl in mammalian Rho GTPases, inactivating these enzymes. Her studies bring new insights to the field of eukaryotic signaling.

Judith Voet, professor emeritus at Swarthmore College, and Donald Voet, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, won the ASBMB Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education. The Voets have made significant contributions to the teaching of biochemistry and molecular biology through their writing. Together, they have authored the comprehensive textbook Biochemistry, co-authored Fundamentals of Biochemistry and co-edited the educational journal Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education.

Christine Guthrie, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, won the ASBMB-Merck Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to research in biochemistry and molecular biology. Guthrie, an American Cancer Society research professor of molecular genetics, pioneered the use of budding yeast as a model organism to elucidate the mechanism of messenger RNA splicing.

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