Public Release: 

11 award-winning scientists to talk about successes, future of biomedical research

Researchers to be honored at Experimental Biology 2011 meeting

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 - The winners of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual awards will give lectures at the Experimental Biology 2011 conference April 9-13 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Earl and Thressa Stadtman Distinguished Scientist Award

Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein, both Nobel laureates from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, have been named the winners of the inaugural Earl and Thressa Stadtman Distinguished Scientist Award. Brown and Goldstein will present their award lecture, "The SREBP Pathway: Stadtman's Paradigm Applied to Cholesterol," at 2:40 p.m. Monday, April 11, in the convention center's Ballroom C, on the third level.

Brown and Goldstein shared the 1985 Nobel prize in medicine or physiology for their discovery of the LDL receptor and the process of receptor-mediated endocytosis, which controls the level of cholesterol in blood and cells. In recent years, they discovered sterol regulatory-element binding proteins and the process of regulated intramembrane proteolysis, which maintains the lipid composition of cell membranes.

"Joe and Mike are towering intellects and leaders in the field of biomedical sciences," says Phillip Sharp of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. "They are among the most recognized and celebrated scientists of their generation and remain active, producing excellent science on contemporary topics."

The award was established to preserve the Stadtmans' legacies as scientists and mentors and consists of a plaque, a $10,000 cash prize and travel expenses.

DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences

Stanford University professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Axel T. Brunger won the inaugural DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences for his work in structural biology. Brunger will present his award lecture titled "Toward Structural Biology with Single Molecules" at 9:03 a.m. Wednesday, April 13, in the convention center's Ballroom C, on the third level.

Established last year, the award aims to honor the legacy of Warren L. DeLano, who embraced the concept of open-source technology, making his programs and source code freely available to prospective users and enabling researchers to build on his technologies. 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.

Brunger's concepts and strategies helped provide the foundation of much of modern structural biology. The award consists of a plaque, a $3,000 cash prize and travel expenses.

Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award

Arthur Gutierrez-Hartmann, a professor at the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine, won the inaugural Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award, which was established to honor an outstanding scientist who has shown a strong commitment to the encouragement and mentoring of under-represented minorities entering the scientific enterprise.

"Arthur has been tireless in his efforts, giving freely of his time to help numerous [underrepresented] and disadvantaged students as they progress through the key transitions in their careers in biomedical sciences," explained John D. Baxter of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in support of Gutierrez-Hartmann's nomination. "Being a Mexican-American physician-scientist who has firsthand knowledge of the disadvantages and prejudices that [underrepresented minority] trainees must overcome has given him insights that resonate with trainees he mentors."

Gutierrez-Hartmann, who studies the role of transcription factors in development and cancer, will present his award lecture, titled "The Role of the ETS Transcription Factor ESE-1 in Breast Cancer," at 9:03 a.m. Sunday, April 10, in the convention center's Ballroom C, on the third level. The award consists of a plaque, a $3,000 cash prize and travel expenses.

ASBMB Young Investigator Award

Job Dekker, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, won the ASBMB Young Investigator Award, which recognizes outstanding research contributions to biochemistry and molecular biology by those who have no more than 15 years postdoctoral experience. Dekker developed and applied powerful new technologies to study the three-dimensional organization of chromosomes and genomes. His pioneering work has led to fundamental new insights into genome organization and regulation.

Dekker will present his award lecture, titled "Three-dimensional Folding of Genomes," at 2:55 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, in the convention center's Ballroom C, on the third level. The award consists of a plaque, a $5,000 cash prize and travel expenses.

ASBMB Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education

Cheryl A. Kerfeld, a structural biologist and the head of the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute's Education and Structural Genomics Program, won the ASBMB Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education. Kerfeld, who also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, was named the winner for encouraging effective teaching and learning of biochemistry and molecular biology through her own teaching, leadership in education, writing, educational research, mentoring and public enlightenment.

"The integration of bona fide research and development of critical thinking skills into undergraduate education has no greater or more effective advocate than Cheryl Kerfeld," said Kathleen Scott, an associate professor at the University of South Florida, who supported Kerfeld's nomination for the award.

Colleagues underscore that Kerfeld pushes the envelope for education in the classroom and on the national scale. "She is tireless in providing opportunities for authentic research projects with genomics in silico and wet lab projects," said Cheryl P. Bailey of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, "and she continues to advance the field of structural genomics."

Kerfeld will present her award lecture, titled "Sequence and Consequence," at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, in Room 209A/B in the convention center. The award consists of a plaque, a $3,000 cash prize and travel expenses.

Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research

Charles E. Chalfant, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and a research career scientist at the McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center in Richmond, Va., won the Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research for his work on lipid signaling pathways regulating alternative pre-mRNA processing and eicosanoid biosynthesis.

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," 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 will present an award lecture titled "Ceramide and Ceramide-1-phosphate: Enigmatic Lipids Generating New Signaling Paradigms" at 11:05 a.m. Monday, April 11, in Room 202A of the convention center. The award recognizes outstanding research contributions by young investigators with no more than 15 years of experience. He will receive a plaque, a $2,000 cash prize and travel expenses.

Avanti Award in Lipids

Yusuf Hannun, professor and department chairman at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, S.C., won the Avanti Award in Lipids for his work on bioactive sphingolipids, a class of lipids that, when defective, can cause disorders with significant medical impacts.

"For more than a century, sphingolipids were an obscure class of molecules whose metabolism and functions were poorly characterized," explained Robert C. Dickson of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, who nominated Hannun for the award. "Indeed, their very name derives from the Greek sphinx, because they presented an enigma to their discoverer, Johann Thudicum. Dr. Hannun's work has pioneered the way in deciphering this enigma by establishing the field of bioactive sphingolipids."

Hannun will give his award lecture, titled "Network of Bioactive Sphingolipids," at 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 11, in the convention center's Ballroom C, on the third level. The award consists of a plaque, a $3,000 cash prize and travel expenses.

Fritz Lipmann Lectureship

Arthur E. Johnson, a distinguished professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center's College of Medicine, won the Fritz Lipmann Lectureship. The award, issued every other year, was established by friends and colleagues of Nobel Prize winner Lipmann for conceptual advances in biochemistry, bioenergetics or molecular biology.

"Art revolutionized our understanding of how complex protein machines operate," says Vytas A. Bankaitis of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, who nominated Johnson for the award. "The level of international acclaim and respect afforded to him by the larger scientific community is richly deserved on the basis of his outstanding research accomplishments over a distinguished career."

Johnson will give his talk, "Membrane Protein Biogenesis," at 9:03 a.m. Monday, April 11, in the convention center's Ballroom C, on the third level. The award includes a plaque, a $3,000 cash prize, and travel expenses.

William C. Rose Award

Melissa J. Moore, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, has been named the winner of the William C. Rose Award. Moore, noted for her work with gene splicing and messenger RNA, was nominated in recognition of her outstanding contributions to biochemical and molecular biological research and her demonstrated commitment to the training of younger scientists.

"Melissa Moore is a paradigm for the Rose Award," said UMMS professor and chairman C. Robert Matthews in nominating Moore. "She is an outstanding scientist, a caring mentor and a terrific colleague. When she perceives a need - from her students, her colleagues or her institution-- she always steps forward to fill that need."

Moore will present her award lecture, titled "Pre-mRNA Processing and mRNA Metabolism," at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 12, in the convention center's Ballroom C, on the third level. The award consists of a plaque, a $3,000 cash prize and travel expenses.

Herbert Tabor/Journal of Biological Chemistry Lectureship

George R. Stark, a distinguished scientist at the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute and emeritus professor of genetics at Case Western Reserve University, won the Herbert Tabor/Journal of Biological Chemistry Lectureship. The award recognizes 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.

"George Stark has been a leader and pioneer in basic and applied research," said Charles E. Samuel of the University of California, Santa Barbara, a longtime colleague of Stark's. "He has been a superb scientist personifying many of the characteristics of Herb Tabor. Recognition with our lectureship would be a most fitting tribute to Stark's numerous seminal contributions."

Those contributions span many fields, influencing the understanding not only of basic biochemistry, but also the specialized fields of gene regulation and cell signaling, which have further implications for immunity and cancer. Those landmark discoveries began during his early work on enzyme mechanisms and protein chemistry, at which time he developed the foundational Northern and Western techniques that detect specific nucleic acids and proteins, respectively.

Although initially designed for his particular studies, the techniques are now used worldwide in research and clinical scenarios. More recently, Stark co-discovered gene amplification in mammalian cells and the Jak-Stat signaling cascade, a major pathway that mediates cellular responses to signals sent by the immune system.

Stark will present his award lecture at the ASBMB annual meeting's opening session, which will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9, in the convention center's Ballroom A, on the third level.

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About Experimental Biology 2011

Experimental Biology is an annual gathering of six scientific societies that this year is expected to draw 13,000-plus independent scientists and exhibitors. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) is a co-sponsor of the meeting, along with the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), American Physiological Society (APS), American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the 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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