Fauci Wins the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award 2016
No stranger to this kudos page, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci is the recipient of the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for 2016 “for his many pioneering contributions to our understanding of HIV infections and his extraordinary leadership in bringing successful treatment to the developing world.” Fauci also is chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, where he has made numerous important discoveries related to AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and is one of the most-cited scientists in the field. He serves as one of the key advisors to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services on global AIDS issues and on initiatives to bolster medical and public-health preparedness against emerging infectious-disease threats such as Ebola and pandemic influenza. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has already been responsible for saving millions of lives throughout the developing world.
NIH Summer Intern Clare Zhu Is Intel Finalist
Clare Zhu, who participated in the summer internship program at NIDA in Lei Shi’s lab (http://irp.drugabuse.gov/shi.php) in 2015, was a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search (https://member.societyforscience.org/document.doc?id=723). Zhu, age 17, of Irvine, California, studied the topography of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a cell-binding site. GPCRs are prime targets for designer therapeutic drugs treating a wide range of conditions, including heart disease, substance addiction, and psychosis. To better understand the structural basis of how molecules bind to GPCRs, Zhu developed a computational analysis tool able to measure subtle but significant changes to GPCR binding sites during the activation process and distinctions among GPCRs involved in different cellular signaling pathways. She believes that her tool could be used in the future to determine the activation state of binding sites, accelerating the design of new targeted drug therapies. Zhu also is a varsity debater, president of Math Olympiad, and secretary and coordinator of the Speedcubing Club at Northwood High School (Irvine). She is also head MATHCOUNTS coach at Jeffrey Trail Middle School (Irvine). She hopes to continue her research in drug design and molecular biophysics and make a lasting contribution to improving drug-design efficiency.
Katie Kindt and Andre Larochelle Receive PECASE
President Obama named 105 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/18/president-obama-honors-extraordinary-early-career-scientists). Among the 23 researchers supported by the Department of Health and Human Services were Katie Kindt, acting chief of NIDCD’s Section on Sensory Cell Development and Function, and Andre Larochelle, an investigator in the NHLBI Regenerative Therapies for Inherited Blood Disorders lab. The recipients were announced on February 18, 2016, and the winners will receive their awards at a White House ceremony this spring.
Kindt’s lab uses molecular and microscopy-based methods to examine sensory-cell function and development in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) model system. Her work has shown that the same genes that cause deafness in zebrafish are associated with hearing defects in humans and in mice. In contrast to mammals, the embryonic and larval zebrafish routinely studied are transparent and develop externally, and therefore hair cells in zebrafish can be studied in vivo.
Larochelle studies regenerative therapies to help those who have inherited blood disorders. He leads a team that is seeking to leverage gene- and stem-cell-based regenerative therapies for disorders affecting blood-forming stem cells, known as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). His program aims to develop regenerative therapies by genetically correcting and expanding the number of HSCs and by deriving HSCs from genetically corrected induced pluripotent stem cells.
Subramaniam’s Imaging Work “Method of the Year”
The journal Nature named cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) the “Method of the Year” for 2015. This technique is being pioneered by Sriram Subramaniam and his NCI colleagues. Among his feats, Subramaniam was able to visualize the beta-galactosidase protein with single-particle cryo-EM at an average spatial resolution of 0.22 nanometers—a level of near-atomic detail once considered the exclusive purview of X-ray crystallography. This technique has allowed the researchers to zoom beyond alpha-helices and amino acid side chains to visualize water molecules and even individual ions, according to Nature editors. The implications for drug discovery and development are perhaps most exciting; cryo-EM maps showing the contacts between small molecules and proteins can help to explore questions such as why one drug is better than another or why certain drugs fail, wrote NIH Director Francis Collins in his January 14, 2016, NIH Director’s Blog entry. Although high-resolution cryo-EM images of proteins smaller than the size of antibody molecules haven’t yet been obtained, in principle any protein or protein complex of interest might be fair game, Collins wrote. Read more about Subramaniam in the February 26, 2016, issue of the NIH Record and in the July-August 2015 NIH Catalyst (https://irp.nih.gov/catalyst/v23i4/cryo-em-holds-promise-for-drug-discovery).
This page was last updated on Wednesday, April 13, 2022