2005 News Archive

September 20, 2005

Pehr A.B. Harbury ('99 Searle Scholar) Becomes Sixth Scholar to Win MacArthur "Genius" Award.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today the names of its 25 Fellows for 2005. The MacArthur Foundation noted Pehr's contributions to protein structure prediction and to the synthesis of complex libraries of chemicals. The text of the MacArthur Foundation web site reads as follows.

"Pehr Harbury is a biochemist who explores the structure, activity, and synthesis of proteins with the aim of developing more potent and more specific drugs for the treatment of disease. Early in his career, he focused on rational protein design, based on first-principles of amino acid structural chemistry. Most functional proteins consist of amino acid side chains attached to a protein backbone. Harbury developed a method for accurately predicting main- and side-chain structures, even for complex multimers. To demonstrate the power of his calculation, he and his colleagues synthesized proteins with unnatural, right-handed supercoiled structure and showed that they were able accurately to predict structures that had never previously existed. To improve understanding of side-chain functionality, Harbury developed an assay for testing the interaction of substrate and specific amino acids. Most recently, Harbury has introduced an efficient and effective method for using in vitro evolution to control combinatorial synthesis of small molecules. With this technique, he is able to tether to a single molecule the information needed to synthesize more of it. When combined with an instruction set many orders of magnitude larger than previous combinatorial chemical libraries and a large pool of chemical manipulations compatible with the process, Harbury's "DNA Display" technique promises vast increases in the speed, efficiency, and search space for the use of combinatorial chemistry in the development of new drugs. "

"Pehr Harbury received a B.A. (1987) and a Ph.D. (1994) from Harvard University. He was a postdoctoral fellow (1995-97) at the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University, where he has been on the faculty since 1997. His publications have appeared in such academic journals as PLoS Biology, Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences "

Previous MacArthur awards have gone to Searle Scholars Joseph L. DeRisi, Richard C. Mulligan, David C. Page, Geraldine C. Seydoux, and Xiaowei Zhuang.

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September 8, 2005

Bruce Lahn ('00 Searle Scholar) and his quest for humanness genes featured in The Scientist, August 29, 2005 issue.

The article in The Scientist describes Bruce's experiences as a protester for individual freedom in China as well as his analysis of the human and chimpanzee genomes. By identifying genes that have undergone rapid change, Bruce seeks to pinpoint those elements of the human genome that have driven the increase in brain power that may distinguish us most clearly from our nearest evolutionary neighbors.

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August 30, 2005

Scholars Brian A. Kuhlman ('04 Searle Scholar) and Kang Shen ('05 Searle Scholar) receive two of the four Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research awards for 2005 from the W.M. Keck Foundation.

The awards were established in 1999 "to give the nation's most promising young scientists the resources they need to pursue potentially breakthrough research projects in biomedicine." Each year since 1999, the program has given annual grants of up to $1 million to four or five junior faculty investigators at leading research universities and institutions. Former recipients of these Keck awards include Searle Scholars Phyllis I. Hanson, Michael J. Caterina, F. Nina Papavasiliou, and Chuan He.

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August 13, 2005

Saba Valadkhan ('04 Searle Scholar) Grand Prize Winner of AAAS's Young Scientist Award, featured in the August 5, 2005 issue of Science.

In the words of Science Editor Donald Kennedy, "GE Healthcare, formerly Amersham Biosciences, and Science/AAAS have joined forces in creating the Prize for Young Scientists. Since 1995, the aim of the prize has been to recognize outstanding Ph.D. graduate students from around the world and reward their research in the field of molecular biology. Both Science/AAAS and GE Healthcare believe that support of promising scientists at the beginning of their careers is critical for continued scientific progress. Each year, the grand prize winner receives a prize of US $25,000." Saba received the 2004 award, announced earlier this year (Science 307: 864 (2005)) The Young Scientist Award was won two years earlier by Jared P. Rutter, also a 2004 Searle Scholar.

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June 28, 2005

Iva S. Greenwald ('87 Scholar) and Anna Marie Pyle ('93 Scholar) to be Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this Fall.

This October 8th, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences will induct this year's new Fellows at its annual induction ceremony at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The 2005 class of new Academy members includes two Searle Scholars: Iva S.Greenwald ('87) and Anna Marie Pyle ('91), as the Academy "continues a tradition of honoring intellectual achievement, leadership and creativity in all fields." With their induction, there will be 27 Searle Scholars in the Academy.

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May 4, 2005

Searle Scholars Iva Greenwald, Michael Karin, David Page and Marc Tessier-Lavigne elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Of the 72 newly elected members of the National Academy of Sciences just announced, four are former Searle Scholars. Iva S. Greenwald is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York City, Her research is focused upon how so many different cell types are generated from a one-cell zygote. It is known that cell-cell interactions play important roles in cell type specification during development. Her research team studies this process in the nematode C. elegans, an organism extremely tractable to genetic and molecular manipulation.

Michael Karin is professor of pharmacology, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego. Dr. Karin has made seminal contributions to the discipline of signal transduction, describing how extracellular stimuli, including growth factors, cytokines, tumor promoters and UV radiation, regulate gene expression in eukaryotic cells. He also served for many years on the Advisory Board that selects Searle Scholars.

David C. Page is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As his lab web site explains, "We study mammalian germ cells and their mitotic development, with particular attention to the roles of sex-chromosomal genes. Some of our work focuses on men who are infertile because of genetic defects disrupting germ cell development. Parallel studies in mice employ a rich array of genetic and embryologic tools. We have completely sequenced the human Y chromosome and analyzed its gene content. Many Y-linked genes, and a surprising number of X-linked genes, are expressed only in male germ cells. An unexpected product of our research is a new understanding of the sex chromosomes' evolutionary origins and dynamics."

Marc Tessier-Lavigne is Senior Vice President, Research, at Genentech Inc., San Francisco. Marc moved in 2003 to this position from a professorship at Stanford University. As he explains "Over the course of my career, my initial interest in basic biological processes grew into an equally strong interest in disease processes and in the medical applications of basic science. I came to Genentech because of its deep commitment to innovative research that has the potential to create breakthrough therapies for unmet medical needs. Marc has made numerous contributions to the understanding of how connections are made during development and during repair of the nervous system.

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