ASBMB honors 12 scientists for scientific and community contributions

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology today announced the winners of its annual awards. The winners were nominated by colleagues and other leaders in their fields for making significant contributions to biochemistry and molecular biology and the training of emerging scientists.

The recipients will give talks about their work at the society’s 2020 annual meeting, which will be held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference April 4-7 in San Diego.

ASBMB Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education

Paul Black, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, won the ASBMB Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education. This award includes a cash prize of $3,000 and is given annually to a scientist who encourages effective teaching and learning of biochemistry and molecular biology through his or her own teaching, leadership in education, writing, educational research, mentoring or public enlightenment. Black leads the biochemistry department at Lincoln. In 2016, he was named an ASBMB education fellow for his contributions to the society’s instruction and assessment initiatives. Two years later, he was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

ASBMB-Merck Award

Manajit Hayer-Hartl, a group leader at the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry, won the ASBMB-Merck Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to research in biochemistry and molecular biology. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize. Hayer-Hartl has led a research group focused on chaperonin-assisted protein folding research since 2006. She is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and in 2017 won the Protein Society’s Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award. Last year, she won the Charles F. Kettering Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Avanti Award in Lipids

Jean Schaffer, a board-certified cardiologist and researcher affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School, won the Avanti Award in Lipids, which recognizes outstanding research contributions in the area of lipids and includes a $3,000 cash prize. Schaffer is moving her lab to Harvard this month after having led the Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease Center and Diabetes Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis. She is an associate editor for the Journal of Lipid Research, an ASBMB peer-reviewed publication.

Bert and Natalie Vallee Award

Edward Dennis, a distinguished professor at the University of California, San Diego, won the Bert and Natalie Vallee Award in Biomedical Science. The award, which was established by the Bert and N. Kuggie Vallee Foundation in 2012, recognizes international achievements in the sciences basic to medicine and carries a $10,000 cash prize. Dennis is a former chair of UCSD’s chemistry and biochemistry department and has led the faculty senate. He was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1984. He served as editor-in-chief for the Journal of Lipid Research, an ASBMB peer-reviewed publication, and is a past winner of the society’s Avanti Award in Lipids.

DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences

Yang Zhang, a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, won the DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences. The award was established by family, friends and colleagues to honor the legacy of Warren L. DeLano, the creator of the widely used PyMOL open-source molecular viewer. The award, which includes a $3,000 cash prize, is given to a scientist for the most accessible and innovative development or application of computer technology to enhance research in the life sciences at the molecular level. Zhang’s lab has been internationally recognized many times over for its algorithms for predicting the 3-D structures of proteins.

Earl and Thressa Stadtman Young Scholar Award

David Pagliarini, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, won the Earl and Thressa Stadtman Young Scholar Award. The award was established by friends and colleagues of the Stadtmans to preserve their legacies as scientists and mentors. It includes a $10,000 cash award and is given to scientists with 10 or fewer years of postdoctoral experience, including medical residencies and fellowships. Pagliarini, who is affiliated with the Morgridge Institute for Research, has won, among other honors, the Searle Scholar Award, a fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a young investigator award from the Protein Society and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the National Science Foundation.

Herbert Tabor Research Award

Kevin Campbell, a professor at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, won the Herbert Tabor Research Award. This award was established by the ASBMB to recognize the many contributions of Herbert Tabor, who served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Biological Chemistry for about four decades. It is given for excellence in biological chemistry, molecular biology and contributions to the community of scientists and includes a $30,000 research award. Campbell serves as director of the Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 1989 and won the ASBMB-Amgen Award in 1994. Campbell was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.

Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry

Carol Fierke, provost and executive vice president of Texas A&M University, won the Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry. The award recognizes scientists at all stages of their careers who have made substantial advances in understanding biological chemistry using innovative physical approaches. The award was established to honor the pioneering scientific accomplishments and the spirit of the late Cohn, the first female president of the society, and includes a $5,000 cash prize. Before moving to A&M, Fierke led the chemistry department and served as graduate dean at the University of Michigan. She co-chaired the ASBMB’s meeting committee and served on the ASBMB publications committee. She was elected to the AAAS in 2006 and won the American Chemical Society’s Repligen Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes and the Protein Society’s Emil Thomas Kaiser Award.

Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award

Lizabeth Allison, a professor at the College of William and Mary, won the Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award. This award was established to honor an outstanding scientist who has shown a strong commitment to encouraging underrepresented minorities to enter the scientific enterprise and who has offered effective mentorship of those within it. The winner is chosen by the ASBMB’s Minority Affairs Committee and the award includes a $3,000 cash prize. Allison is a past chair of the biology department at William and Mary and in 2009 was named advisor of the year for the College of Arts and Sciences and won the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award.

Walter Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipids

Jeremy Baskin, an assistant professor at Cornell University, won the Walter Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipids. The award was established by ASBMB’s Lipid Research Division and recognizes outstanding research contributions in the area of lipids by young investigators who are assistant professors (or equivalent) with no more than 10 years of experience since receiving their degrees (Ph.D. and/or M.D.). It includes a $2,000 cash prize. Baskin in 2017 won the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation’s Beckman Young Investigator Award, which came with a $750,000 research grant.

William C. Rose Award

Celia Schiffer, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, won the William C. Rose Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to biochemical and molecular biological research and a demonstrated commitment to the training of younger scientists. The award consists of a $3,000 cash prize. Schiffer directs the Institute for Drug Resistance at the UMass med school. She was made a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2015 and won the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research educator of the year award in 2016.

Alice and C. C. Wang Award in Molecular Parasitology

Patricia Johnson, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, won the Alice and C.C. Wang Award in Molecular Parasitology. The award recognizes established investigators who are making seminal contributions to the field of molecular parasitology. Novel and significant discoveries on the biology of parasitic organisms are of particular emphasis. The award includes a $35,000 cash prize for use by the recipient’s research laboratory and the winner is also invited to organize a half-day symposium focusing on molecular parasitology at the ASBMB national meeting. Johnson’s lab at UCLA studies the cause of the most prevalent, nonviral, sexually transmitted infection worldwide and the most common parasite found in the U.S. population: Trichomonas vaginalis.

In addition to the cash prize, each ASBMB award consists of a plaque and transportation expenses to present a lecture at the annual ASBMB meeting.

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Learn more about the ASBMB awards: http://www.asbmb.org/awards/.

Listen to past award lectures on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/asbmb/sets/2019-asbmb-award-winners.

About the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with more than 11,000 members worldwide. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in government laboratories, at nonprofit research institutions and in industry. The Society publishes three journals: the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Journal of Lipid Research, and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. For more information about ASBMB, visit http://www.asbmb.org.

Media Contact
Angela Hopp
ahopp@asbmb.org

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