Public Release: 

American Association of Anatomists awards Young Investigators

Transformative research in the field of cell biology, neuroanatomy, and anatomical science

American Association of Anatomists

BETHESDA, MD (March, 24, 2015) - The American Association of Anatomists (AAA) is honored to announce the 2015 Young Investigator Award winners. All awards will be presented during the Closing Awards Ceremony at AAA's 2015 annual meeting at Experimental Biology (EB) in Boston, MA. The ceremony is being held at The Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel on Tuesday, March 31st, 2015, at 8pm.

Young Investigator awards recognize investigators in the early stages of their careers who have made important contributions to biomedical science through their research in cell/molecular biology, comparative neuroanatomy, developmental biology, or the morphological sciences.

The 2015 Young Investigator Award winners are:

R.R. Bensley Award in Cell Biology

Bungo Akiyoshi, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford, will be honored for his early contributions to the field of anatomy through discovery, ingenuity and publication in the field of cell biology. He will present a lecture, "Discovery of Unconventional Kinetochores in Kinetoplastids," on Sunday, March, 29th at EB. Dr. Akiyoshi's research focuses on kinetochores (the macromolecular protein complex that segregates chromosomes). Though widely assumed that eukaryotes utilize a conserved set of proteins to build kinetochores, his research revealed that trypanosomes (eukaryotic parasite that causes African sleeping sickness, among other diseases) and related species possess a completely different type of kinetochore proteins. His talk will highlight research in this field.

C.J. Herrick Award in Neuroanatomy

Feng Zhang, Ph.D., of the Broad Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be honored for his contributions to the field of comparative neuroanatomy. He will give a lecture, "Development and Applications of CRISPR-Cas9 for Genome Manipulations," on Monday, March 30th at EB. Dr. Zhang's research looks at the CRISPR/Cas-9 system. The genome engineering system CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats) is used to make very precise changes in the genome. Cas-9 nuclease can be modified to modulate transcription and alter the epigenetic states of living cells. Dr. Zhang hopes to use this technology to study neuropsychiatric diseases such as Huntington's disease and schizophrenia.

H. W. Mossman Award in Developmental Biology

Dirk Hockemeyer, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkley, will be honored with a plaque for his early contributions to the field of developmental biology. Dr. Hockemeyer will also present a lecture, "Elucidating Telomerase Function in Human Tumor and Stem Cell," on Sunday, March, 29th at EB. Dr. Hockemeyer' s research goal is to elucidate the role of telomerase and telomere function in human stem cells during aging and during tumorigenesis, to specifically target cancer cells and to intervene with cancer progression.

Morphological Sciences Award

Richard Daneman, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, will be honored for his important contributions to biomedical science through research in the morphological sciences. He will present a lecture, "Regulation of the Blood-Brain Barrier in Health and Disease," on Monday, March 30th at EB. Dr. Daneman's research focuses on all aspects of the blood-brain barrier, including the development of this crucial barrier, how the barrier is integrated into the neuronal circuitry to regulate brain function and behavior, and how dysfunction of the barrier contributes to different diseases.


About AAA: The American Association of Anatomists (AAA) was founded by Joseph Leidy in Washington, D.C. in 1888 for the "advancement of anatomical science." Today, via research, education and professional development activities, AAA serves as the professional home for an international community of biomedical researchers and educators focusing on the structural foundation of health and disease.

About Experimental Biology (EB): EB is an annual meeting comprised of over 14,000 scientists representing six sponsoring societies and multiple guest societies. Primary focus areas include anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, nutrition and pharmacology. EB is open to all members of the sponsoring and guest societies and nonmembers interested in the latest research impacting life sciences. Attendees represent scientists, academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations.

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