2006 News Archive

December 19, 2006

Five Scholars Elected Fellows of the AAAS in 2006.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science announced the election of five Searle Scholars among the Fellows elected this Fall. In the Biological Sciences, the new fellows include Scholars Eric Anslyn ('91 Scholar), Cori Bargmann ('92), Gaetano Montelione ('89), Barbara Wakimoto ('85), and William Tolman ('92). Advisory Board Member Michael Edidin and former Advisor Judith Kimble were also elected.

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November 27, 2006

Karla Kirkegaard ('87 Scholar) and Evgeny Nudler ('98 Scholar) are among the 13 recipients of the 2006 NIH Director's Pioneer Awards.

Last year Pehr Harbury ('99 Scholar) and Vicki Chandler ('88 Scholar) received these awards. As the NIH web site explains: "A unique aspect of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research is the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (NDPA) Program, a high-risk research initiative of Research Teams of the Future. First announced in Fiscal Year 2004, nine awards were made in September 2004, and 13 awards each were made in 2005 and 2006. The NDPA is designed to support individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose pioneering approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research. The term "pioneering" is used to describe highly innovative - potentially transformative - approaches that have the potential to produce an unusually high impact, and the term "award" is used to mean a grant for conducting research, rather than a reward for past achievements."

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October 11, 2006

Amy Pasquinelli ('04 Searle Scholar) one of five to receive a Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research award for 2006 from the W.M. Keck Foundation.

Amy's award was given "to study the central problem of how microRNAs regulate specific target genes". 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 Mike Caterina, Phyllis Hanson, Chuan He, Brian Kuhlman, Nina Papavasiliou, and Kang Shen.

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September 20, 2006

Ken Catania ('01 Searle Scholar) Becomes Seventh Scholar to Win MacArthur "Genius" Award.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today the names of its 25 Fellows for 2006. The MacArthur Foundation noted Ken's contributions to the study of the nervous systems of unusual animals "to generate new insights into the mammalian cortex--how it evolves, develops, and responds to changing conditions". The text of the MacArthur Foundation web site reads as follows.

"Kenneth Catania is a neuroscientist whose investigations of mammalian insectivores, particularly the star-nosed mole, provide fundamental insights into the organization of the sensory cortex. The star-nosed mole, a near-blind, wetlands-dwelling rodent, relies on fleshy tactile tendrils surrounding its nose to locate and identify prey underground. In his early work, Catania showed that the somatosensory cortex of these animals is organized in spatial maps corresponding to the sensory organ itself; this discovery represents a correspondence to the organization of the visual cortex in most other mammals. By investigating natural variations in the number of sensory tendrils, he was able to show that the somatosensory maps reorganize according to the morphology of the organ, implying that the sensory inputs themselves shape the cortical organization during development. Recently, Catania used foraging theory to show that the star-nosed mole approaches the theoretical maximum speed for locating and consuming food; he postulates that the remarkably fast neural processing of sensory input represents a necessary adaptation to the ecological niche of this insectivorous mole species. Through his integrative approach to understanding an unusual animal model, Catania generates new insights into the mammalian cortex - how it evolves, how it develops, and how it responds to changing conditions.

Kenneth Catania received a B.S. (1991) in zoology from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Ph.D. (1997) in neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University (1997-1998) and served as an assistant professor (1998-2006) in Vanderbilt's Department of Biological Sciences, prior to being named an associate professor in 2006. Catania's articles have appeared in such journals as Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, and Nature Neuroscience.

Previous MacArthur awards have gone to Searle Scholars Joe DeRisi, Pehr Harbury, Richard Mulligan, David Page, Geraldine Seydoux, Xiaowei Zhuang and Ken Catania.

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May 1, 2006

Searle Scholars Dale Boger ('81), Minx Fuller ('85), Scott Hawley ('84) and Susan McConnell ('89) Elected Fellows of American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences just announced its new Fellows for 2006. Dale Boger, who is the Richard and Alice Cramer Professor of Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute. Minx Fuller is the Reed Hodgson Professor of Human Biology and Chair of the Genetics Department, Stanford University . Scott Hawly joined the recently formed Stowers Institute for Medical Research as a senior faculty member. Susan McConnell is the Susan B. Ford Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University . With their induction, there will be 31 Searle Scholars in the Academy.

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May 1, 2006

Searle Scholars Stephen Goff ('82) and Terry Orr-Weaver ('88) elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Among the 72 newly elected members of the National Academy of Sciences just announced Searle Scholars, Stephen Goff and Terry Orr-Weaver. This brings to 26 the number of Searle Scholars who are members of the National Academy of Sciences.

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May 1, 2006

American Chemical Society Honors Searle Scholars Peter Schultz ('85) and Eric Anslyn ('91)

Peter Schultz received the 2006 Arthur C. Cope Medal. The Cope Medal is awarded to a single person annually "to recognize outstanding achievement in the field of organic chemistry the significance of which has become apparent within the five years preceding the year in which the award" is given. An unique feature of the award is that "an unrestricted grant-in-aid of $150,000 for research in organic chemistry, under the direction of the recipient, designated as an Arthur C. Cope Fund Grant, will be made to any university or nonprofit institution selected by the recipient. A recipient may choose to assign the Arthur C. Cope Fund Grant to an institution for use by others than the recipient for research or education in organic chemistry." Peter Schultz is currently Professor of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute and the Institute Director of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego , CA .

Eric Anslyn received an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, one of ten given annually to "recognize and encourage excellence in organic chemistry." The award includes research grant to support research in organic chemistry. Eric is the eighteenth Searle Scholar to receive this award, which was founded in 1984 by the ACS.

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April 19, 2006

New Howard Hughes Medical Institute "Million-Dollar Professors" include two Searle Scholars: Catherine Drennan ('01 Scholar) and Scott Strobel ('97) as well as Advisory Board member Sue Wessler.

These scientists were chosen for their talent as teachers. As the Howard Hughes Medical Institute new release of April 5th states: "Teaching often takes a back seat to research at leading American universities. Determined to change that fact, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) combed the country for leading research scientists who, through their teaching and mentoring, are striving to ignite the scientific spark in a new generation of students. Now 20 of the best will receive $1 million each from HHMI to put their innovative ideas into action as HHMI professors at 18 research universities across the country."

"The Institute does not tell the HHMI professors what to do or how to approach science education. Rather, HHMI provides them with the resources to turn their own considerable creativity loose in their undergraduate classrooms. Some will design programs to attract more women and minorities to science. Others will turn large introductory science courses or classes for non-science majors into engaging, hands-on learning experiences that challenge students to think like working scientists."

"The scientists whom we have selected are true pioneers-not only in their research, but in their creative approaches and dedication to teaching," said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI president. "We are hopeful that their educational experiments will energize undergraduate science education throughout the nation."

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March 16, 2006

Scholars Rene Garcia and Neil Kelleher Receive 2004 Presidential Early Career Awards

Rene Garcia ('03 Scholar) and Neil Kelleher ('00 Scholar) were recipients of the 2004 Awards (announced recently). These Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, established in 1996, honor "the most promising beginning researchers in the nation within their fields. Eight federal departments and agencies annually nominate scientists and engineers at the start of their careers whose work shows the greatest promise to benefit the nominating agency's mission. Participating agencies award these beginning scientists and engineers up to five years of funding to further their research in support of critical government missions."

January 26, 2006

Sabeeha Merchant ('88 Scholar) to receive 2006 Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

This medal and a monetary prize honors her "pioneering discoveries in the assembly of metalloenzymes and the regulated biogenesis of major complexes of the photosynthetic apparatus in green algae." The award has been presented at three-year intervals since 1979 for excellence in research on marine and freshwater algae.

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