Public Release: 

American Association of Anatomists awards Young Investigators for life-changing research

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

American Association of Anatomists

BETHESDA, MD - The American Association of Anatomists (AAA) is honored to announce the 2017 Young Investigator Award winners. All awards will be presented during the Closing Awards Ceremony at AAA's 2017 annual meeting at Experimental Biology (EB) in Chicago, IL. The ceremony is being held at the Hilton Chicago on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at 7pm.

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 2017 Young Investigator Award winners are:

H. W. Mossman Award in Developmental Biology

Maria Barna, Ph.D, Stanford University, will be honored for her contributions to the field of developmental biology. Dr. Barna will also present a lecture, "Specialized Ribosomes: A New Frontier in Gene Regulation, Organismal Biology, & Evolution," at EB. Dr. Barna's talk will address work centered on providing a roadmap for the absolute quantification of ribosome composition at a single cell level and during cellular differentiation that has identified subsets of ribosomes that are heterogeneous for core ribosomal proteins and interacting proteins.

R.R. Bensley Award in Cell Biology

Gloria Brar, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, will be honored for her early contributions to the field of anatomy through discovery, ingenuity and publication in the field of cell biology. She will present a lecture, "Unraveling gene regulatory mechanisms in meiotic differentiation," at EB. Dr. Brar's lab is focused on the molecular basis for the cellular remodeling accompanying meiosis, the highly conserved process by which gametes are produced. Her EB talk discusses her research relating to genome-wide measurements of translation using ribosome profiling through meiosis in budding yeast to better understand the molecular basis for the full cellular restructuring that accompanies meiotic chromosome segregation.

Morphological Sciences Award

Shigeki Watanabe, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, will be honored for his important contributions to biomedical science through research in the morphological sciences. He will present a lecture, "Ultrafast recycling of synaptic vesicles," at EB. Dr. Watanabe's lab focuses on projects related to synaptic vesicle recycling and glutamate receptor trafficking. His talk presents research related to investigations on how endocytosis takes place. His team has developed a method, 'flash-and-freeze' that couples optogenetic stimulation with rapid high-pressure freezing and captures endocytosis at millisecond temporal resolution.

C.J. Herrick Award in Neuroanatomy

Florian Merkle, Ph.D., University of Cambridge, will be honored for his contributions to the field of comparative neuroanatomy. He will give a lecture, "The impact of neuroanatomy on my career: from adult neurogenesis to in vitro disease modelling," at EB. The goal of Dr. Merkle's laboratory is to work with pluripotent stem cells to model human diseases with the aim of illuminating the processes that lead to disease. His talk will highlight his work in neuroanatomy including current work in his lab related to using single cell RNA sequencing and cellular assays to explore the functional heterogeneity of in vitro-derived neurons.

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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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