Awards in the Department

Radhika Subramanian receives National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award

Dr. Radhika Subramanian, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology has  received a National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award for her project A Versatile Platform for Reconstructing the Spatial Organization of Intracellular Signaling During Cell-Division.

Part of the High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, the award supports exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects.

 

Radhika Subramanian selected as a 2016 Pew scholar

Radhika Subramanian, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology, has been selected as a 2016 Pew scholar. The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences supports promising early-career scientists in the health sciences – particularly young researchers with innovative approaches and ideas.

Read the announcement

Rodrigo Aguilar selected as a Pew Latin American Fellow

Rodrigo Aguilar, PhD, research fellow in the Lee Laboratory in the Department of Molecular Biology, has been selected as a Pew Latin American Fellow. The Pew Latin American Fellows Program has supported more than 200 outstanding biomedical scholars from Central and South America to advance research in their countries. Fellows pursue postdoctoral studies with distinguished mentors in the United States.

Read the announcement

Gary Ruvkun awarded the 2016 March of Dimes and Richard B. Johnston, Jr., MD Prize in Developmental Biology

Gary Ruvkun, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Victor R. Ambros, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and have been awarded the 2016 March of Dimes and Richard B. Johnston, Jr., MD Prize in Developmental Biology. The Prize recognizes their pioneering co-discovery of an unanticipated world of the tiniest genes, microRNAs (or miRNAs), and the mechanism by which they regulate their targets.

Read the announcement

Bob Kingston elected to National Academy of Sciences

 Bob Kingston, Chief of the Department of Molecular Biology, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Read the official announcement

Jeannie Lee wins the 2016 Lurie Prize.

This is a new award that is highly prestigious and given to one younger scientist a year. The last two awardees were Karl Deisseroth for opto-genetics and Jennifer Doudna for CRISPR, so very good company for Jeannie! The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) has selected Jeannie T. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., as the 2016 winner of the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences for uncovering the functions of long, noncoding RNA (lncRNA) in epigenetic regulation. Her work has accelerated the understanding of mechanisms driving epigenetic regulation, which involves changes in gene function without changing the DNA sequence.

http://fnih.org/news/press-releases/2016-lurie-prize

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/02/prweb13218105.htm

Vamsi Mootha won the King Faisal International Prize in Biology

This award is given to those that have “carried out and published an original scientific research on the prize’s topic, with major benefits to humanity.” Since 1983, the King Faisal prize has been awarded to a series of renowned scientists, including those who would later win the Nobel Prize.

Vamsi Mootha is Professor of systems of biology and medicine, at the MGH Department of Molecular Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Official announcement: http://kfip.org/professor-vamsi-krishna-mootha/

More on the King Faisal prize: http://kfip.org/about-kfip/

A list of previous winners: http://kfip.org/science/

Dr. Radhika Subramanian receives the Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research

The receipt of this award, through the Smith Family Foundation, will support work in Dr. Subramanian’s lab towards understanding the fundamental mechanisms underlying cell-to-cell communication during embryonic development. The mission of the Smith Family Foundation, which has been supporting groundbreaking medical research through the Smith Family Awards Program for Excellence in Biomedical Research for the past 23 years, is to launch the careers of newly independent biomedical researchers with the ultimate goal of achieving medical breakthroughs.

Vamsi Mootha received a MGH Excellence in Action Award

Five MGHers received an Excellence in Action Award from Peter Slavin, MD, MGH president. Recipients include Jaime Belkind-Gerson, MD, MSc, medical director of the Neurogastroenterology Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children; Eric Grabowski, MD, SCD, director of the MGH Comprehensive Hemophilia Treatment Center; Vamsi Mootha, MD, director of the Mootha Lab in the Department of Molecular Biology; Katherine Sims, MD,pediatric neurologist; and Jolan Walter, MD, PhD, director of the Pediatric Immunodeficiency Program. They were presented with the award July 30 for successfully treating a child with a complex case of mitochondrial disease. Parents of the 12-year-old child were so pleased with their child’s care that they wrote to Slavin to share their positive experience, calling the MGH specialists the “best team of doctors in the world.”.

Vamsi Mootha is Professor of systems of biology and medicine, at the MGH Department of Molecular Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Jeannie Lee has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences

This is a great honor for Jeannie Lee , and wonderful news for our Department. Jeannie joined our Department as an Assistant Professor in 1997. She has been a leader in the field of X chromosome inactivation and a pioneer in discovering roles for long non-coding RNAs. Her lab discovered Tsix, a key lncRNA involved in regulating X inactivation, discovered DNA elements key to this process, and has done important work in in elucidating the roles for the YY1 protein and the PRC2 complex in this process. The work coming out of Jeannie’s lab is directly relevant to human disease, including fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome. Jeannie has been the recipient of many honors and awards, and her election to the NAS is richly deserved.

http://www.nasonline.org/news-and-multimedia/news/april-28-2015-NAS-Election.html

Kai Mao named Damon Runyon Fellow

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on supporting innovative early career researchers, named Kai Mao, PhD, of the Department of Molecular Biology, as one of 15 new Damon Runyon Fellows at its fall Fellowship Award Committee review. The recipients of this prestigious, four-year award are outstanding postdoctoral scientists conducting basic and translational cancer research in the laboratories of leading senior investigators across the country. The fellowship encourages the nation's most promising young scientists to pursue careers in cancer research by providing them with independent funding to work on innovative projects. Mao, with his sponsor Gary Ruvkun, PhD, is studying the cell’s cytoskeleton, which provides the physical structure and shape of a cell. The cytoskeleton is an attractive target for cancer chemotherapy because of its central function in mitosis or cell division, but these chemotherapeutic agents have very high toxicity. He hypothesizes that the next generation of chemotherapy will benefit from the inhibition of these toxin response pathways.

Fred Ausubel is a recipient of the 2014-2015 William Silen Lifetime Achievement Award

This is one of the highly prestigious HMS Excellence in Mentoring Awards.

The Excellence in Mentoring Awards were established to recognize the value of quality mentoring relationships and the impact they have on professional development and career advancement in basic/clinical medicine, research, teaching, and administration. Fred is certainly deserving of this recognition.

https://mfdp.med.harvard.edu/awards/excellence-mentoring-award/silen-awards

Gary Ruvkun, PhD, was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Gary Ruvkun, PhD, was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences on November 9, along with Victor Ambros for their work on the discovery of microRNAs and their broad use in biology.

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced the recipients of the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics and Life Sciences. These distinguished winners, along with previously announced recipients in the Mathematics category, each receive a $3 million prize.

https://breakthroughprize.org/?controller=Page&action=news&news_id=21

Gary Ruvkun has been awarded the 2014 Gruber Genetics Prize

Gary Ruvkun, PhD, of the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology and the Department of Molecular Biology, has been awarded the 2014 Gruber Genetics Prize from the Gruber Foundation through Yale University for his work with Victor Ambros, PhD, University of Massachusetts, identifying the existence of microRNAs in animals that control the activity of other genes.

http://gruber.yale.edu/genetics/2014/gary-ruvkun

Vamsi Mootha elected to the National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences announced the election of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 15 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Vamsi Mootha is Professor of systems of biology and medicine, at the MGH Department of Molecular Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

http://www.nasonline.org/news-and-multimedia/news/april-29-2014-NAS-Election.html

Fred Ausubel, winner of the 2014 Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal

 

Fred Ausubel, winner of the 2014 Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal

Fred's name will soon be added to the list of recipients at http://www.genetics-gsa.org/awards/thomashuntaward.shtml. The Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal is awarded to an individual GSA (Genetics Society of America) member for lifetime achievement in the field of genetics. It recognizes the full body of work of an exceptional geneticist.

During his 40-year career, Dr. Ausubel’s work has centered on host-microbe interactions and host innate immunity. He is widely recognized as a key scientist responsible for establishing the modern post-recombinant DNA field of host-microbe interactions using simple non-vertebrate hosts. He has used genetic approaches to conduct pioneering work that spawned six related areas of research: the evolution and regulation of Rhizobium genes involved in symbiotic nitrogen fixation; the regulation of Rhizobium genes by two-component regulatory systems involving histidine kinases; establishing Arabidopsis thaliana as a world-wide model system; identifying a large family of plant disease resistance genes; identifying so-called multi-host bacterial pathogens; and demonstrating that Caenorhabditis elegans has an evolutionarily conserved innate immune system that shares features of both plant and mammalian immunity.

His early work with Klebsiella pneumonia and Rhizobium meliloti brought discoveries about key regulatory networks in free-living and symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria and the genes that symbiotic bacteria use to interact with their hosts. He also applied genetic analysis to the host side of microbial plant and microbial animal interactions, using Arabidopsis and C. elegans to define fundamental immune defense mechanisms, ultimately fathering scientific research fields that have grown to hundreds of independent research groups. Ausubel’s findings support the hypothesis that key features of host-defense responses, and the offensive strategies pathogenic microbes use, have ancient origins.

He has been an author on over 300 publications, has trained over 30 graduate students and 70 postdoctoral researchers, spawning a highly-successful scientific lineage. Dr. Ausubel is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology. He currently holds an NIH MERIT Award, has served on the editorial boards of fourteen journals, numerous advisory boards, and has edited a popular manual detailing protocols in molecular biology.

Vamsi Mootha winner of the 2014 Padma Shri Award

Vamsi Mootha winner of the 2014 Padma Shri Award

Vamsi Mootha is the winner of the 2014 Padma Shri Award, one of the highest civilian awards in the Republic of India. The award recognizes distinguished and exceptional achievements in all fields. Vamsi, of course, has been recognized for his contribution to science and medicine.

http://www.indiawest.com/news/16519-three-indian-americans-to-receive-padma-shri-awards.html

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/padma-awards-for-7-persons-under-nri-pio-foreign-category/article5618199.ece

http://www.mha.nic.in/awards_medals

Gary Ruvkun, co-winner of the 2014 Wolf Prize in Medicine


Gary and his friend and colleague, Victor Ambros, won the award "for the discovery of the micro-RNA molecules that play a key role in controlling gene expression in natural processes and disease development." The highly prestigious Wolf Prize follows a long series of honors that Gary and Victor have won for their discovery of this fundamental regulatory mechanism in biology.

Read the official prize announcement

HHMI selects Vamsi Mootha for prestigious honor

 

HHMI selects Vamsi Mootha for prestigious honor

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced that Vamsi Mootha is among the 27 “top biomedical researchers” in the nation who will become HHMI investigators this fall. Selected for their scientific excellence, all of the investigators will receive flexible, financial support over the next five years so that they may move their research forward in creative and new directions.

Mootha is a professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School, a professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and a senior associate member of the Broad Institute and co-director of the institute’s Metabolism Program. Mootha’s research is primarily focused on the mitochondrion, the “powerhouse of the cell,” and its role in human disease. Mootha’s group has characterized the mitochondrial proteome, and has used this inventory to investigate the physiology of the organelle, and its role in rare but devastating inherited metabolic disorders.

“This is a very talented group of scientists. And while we cannot predict where their research will take them, we’re eager to help them move science forward,” HHMI president Robert Tjian said in a press statement.

The new group of HHMI investigators was selected from among a group of 1,155 applicants with five to 15 years of experience as faculty members. HHMI – guided by the principle “people, not projects” – will provide each investigator with support for basic biomedical research over the next five years, at which time appointments may be renewed. The new investigators will begin their appointments in September 2013.

MGH Researchers Earn Distinctive Awards from NIH and White House

MGH Researchers Earn Distinctive Awards from NIH and White House

Every year, the Director's Office of the National Institutes of Health awards major grants to researchers who challenge the status quo. Once again several MGH investigators are among the recipients of these prestigious awards. Vamsi Mootha, MD, of Molecular Biology, has received one of 17 Transformative Research Project Awards to investigate his novel approach for treating disorders of the subcellular power plants called mitochondria.

 

Jack Szostak Receives the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Jack Szostak Receives the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Jack Szostak Receives the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

 

Dr. Jack Szostak of the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital has been awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his original contributions to our understanding of the processes of life and disease. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the prize to Dr. Szostak "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase". With Elizabeth Blackburn, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and Carol Greider, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he demonstrated the existence of telomeres and predicted the enzyme telomerase.

''The discoveries by Blackburn, Greider and Szostak have added a new dimension to our understanding of the cell, shed light on disease mechanisms, and stimulated the development of potential new therapies,'' the prize committee said in its citation. They solved the mystery of how a chromosome can be copied completely during cell division and remain free of errors during the process. They showed how organisms use telomerase to prevent the genome from degrading during division. His work made possible subsequent studies linking telomerase to cancer and age-related diseases in humans.

Dr. Szostak has also received the 2008 Heineken Prize and the 2006 Lasker Award for his accomplishments in basic medical research for his work on telomerase. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow, the Alexander Rich Distinguished Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. His current research is on the origin of life.

Click here for the announcement on the Nobel Prize website.
Click here for more information on his research on the HHMI website.

Jack Szostak with members of his laboratory.
Front row, kneeling/sitting: Itay Budin, Shenglong Zhang, Na Zhang, Ting Zhu, Mathangy Krishnamurthy.
Standing: Trista Marie Talbot, Sam Bjork, Matthew Powner, Rafael Bruckner, Alonso Ricardo, Ben Hueberger, Sylvia Tobe, Pam Svec, Simon Trevino, Jack Szostak, Jason Schrum, Yollete Guillen Schlippe, Chi-Wang Lin, Katarzyna Adamala, Mark Elenko, Craig Blain.