Intramural Research Awards
NCI’s Merlino Honored for Melanoma Research
Glenn Merlino, a deputy director of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research and chief of CCR’s Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics, received a lifetime achievement award from the Society for Melanoma Research at the society’s annual meeting in Philadelphia in November 2013. The award honors his outstanding contributions to the understanding of tumor initiation and metastatic progression. Merlino began his career at NCI in 1980 as a postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Ira Pastan. He has also served as head of CCR’s Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Carcinogenesis. Merlino was the first to report that a protein involved in communication between cells promotes melanoma when activated by UV radiation. He was also among the first to show in living animals that growth factors, such as proteins or hormones, can turn normal cells into tumor cells. His lab currently uses genetically engineered mouse models of human cancer to investigate the complex molecular programs governing the genesis of melanoma.
Dimiter Dimitrov & Zhongyu Zhu Receive Australia’s Chairman’s Medal
Mitko Dimitrov, senior investigator in the NCI CCR Nanobiology Program, and Zhongyu Zhu, staff scientist in the NCI CCR Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, have received Australia's highest award for scientific achievement for their work on a Hendra virus vaccine. The CSIRO Chairman's Medal was awarded to them as part of the Hendra Virus Research Team for pioneering research that has led to the development of the first equine vaccine and a human treatment against the deadly Hendra virus. The award was bestowed in October 2013.
Through innovative science and international collaboration, the Hendra Virus Research Team has made a sustained and significant contribution to understanding and mitigating the threat posed by this novel virus, and has become one of the world’s leading emerging zoonotic disease research teams.The most recent outcome of their work, the Equivax® HeV horse vaccine, will save human lives by protecting horses from the disease, thereby breaking the only known Hendra virus transmission pathway from bats to humans. Hendra virus is a highly pathogenic emerging zoonotic infection harbored by Australian flying foxes with sporadic spill-over directly to horses. Infection of people has typically occurred after close contact with terminally ill horses, with over 50 per cent mortality. The launch of the equine Hendra virus vaccine has been heralded internationally as an outstanding example of the One Health approach for control of a major public health threat. Read more about the work
Elaine Jaffe Wins Hematology Award
Elaine Jaffe, a senior investigator in the NCI CCR Laboratory of Pathology, will receive the 2013 Henry M. Stratton Medal from the American Society of Hematology (ASH) for her work on lymphoma. She shares the award with Nancy Andrews of Duke University School of Medicine for her work on iron homeostasis. The award was announced on August 1, 2013.
Each year ASH honors two senior investigators, one in basic research and the other in clinical/translational research, with the Henry M. Stratton Medal. Jaffe is regarded by her peers as one of the most pre-eminent hematopathologists of her generation. She is most widely known for her work regarding the pathophysiology and prognosis of malignant lymphomas, as well as her unparalleled work to understand how they respond to treatment. She has completed intriguing work on the interrelationship between Hodgkin lymphoma and B-cell lymphomas, focusing in particular on grey zone lymphomas that appear to represent the missing link between classical Hodgkin lymphoma and other B-cell malignancies and exploring the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that cause a B cell to become a Hodgkin cell.
Prokunina-Olsson Wins Tabor Young Investigator Award
Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, an investigator in the NCI DCEG Laboratory of Translational Genomics has won the 2013 Journal of Biological Chemistry/Herbert Tabor Young Investigator Award. The awards honor Tabor’s invaluable contributions to the journal and to science as a whole. The awards also recognize the innovators and achievers in new generations of researchers who exemplify Tabor’s values of creativity and scientific excellence. Prokunina-Olsson’s laboratory has analyzed the chromosome 1p11.2 region that includes the breast cancer-associated SNP rs11249433 (Thomas et al., Nature Genetics 2009). Through their studies on mRNA expression, they found that the rs11249433 genotype is associated with expression of the NOTCH2 gene, and that this association is stronger in estrogen receptor (ER) positive tumors compared with ER negative tumors (Fu et al., Molecular Cancer 2010). Her laboratory is also performing genetic and functional analysis of associations within the JAZF1 gene and prostate cancer risk (Thomas et al., Nature Genetics 2008). Her lab has re-sequenced the region around a prostate cancer-associated SNP, identified all genetic variants in high linkage disequilibrium, and performed further genotyping and association studies. Through a grant from the Center of Excellence in Integrative Cancer Biology and Genomics (CEICBG, in collaboration with Drs. Natasha Caplen and Stefan Ambs, CCR/NCI), they are combining studies of mRNA expression, siRNA, and pathways analysis to better understand the function of JAZF1.
Bridgitte Widemann Receives Von Recklinghausen Cancer Award
Brigitte Widemann, head of the Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Section in NCI CCR’s Pediatric Oncology Branch, received the 2013 Von Recklinghausen Award from the Children’s Tumor Foundation at the annual Neurofibromatosis Conference on June 9. The Von Recklinghausen award recognizes the researchers who have made significant contributions to neurofibromatosis research and clinical care. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins is a past recipient. Widemann’s research focuses on the application of new molecularly targeted agents to the treatment of childhood cancers and neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). In addition to studying the pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and toxicities of these novel agents, her lab evaluates novel clinical trial designs and trial endpoints, which may be more applicable for molecularly targeted agents. The clinical development of farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTI), which inhibit the posttranslational farnesylation required for the activity of wild-type and mutant ras proteins for patients with NF1 and refractory leukemias, serves as an example for this approach.
Louis Staudt Elected to NAS
Lou Staudt has been elected into the National Academy of Sciences, announced on April 30, 2013. He is among 84 new members. Members are elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
Staudt is deputy chief of NCI CCR’s Metabolism Branch. His laboratory studies the molecular pathogenesis of human lymphoid malignancies and has three primary goals: to establish a new molecular diagnosis of human lymphoid malignancies using gene expression profiling, to elucidate the oncogenic pathways that result in malignant transformation of normal B lymphocytes, and to identify molecular targets for development of novel therapeutics for these cancers.
Rosenberg Wins Keio Medical Science Prize
Steven A. Rosenberg, a pioneer in the fields of basic tumor immunology and cancer immunotherapy, can add recipient of the 17th annual Keio Medical Science Prize to his list of academic and professional honors. The prize, awarded in September 2012 by Keio University in Tokyo, recognizes the outstanding and creative achievements of researchers in the fields of medicine and life sciences, in particular those contributing to scientific developments in medicine. Six recipients of the Keio Medical Science Prize have later won the Nobel Prize. Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute and head of the Tumor Immunology Section in NCI's Center for Cancer Research, has been at the forefront of efforts to develop an effective immunotherapy for human cancer. In his recent work, he has used genetic engineering to develop anti-tumor immune lymphocytes. He delivered his award lecture at Keio University in Tokyo on November 29, 2012.
Tom Misteli Wins Arthur S. Flemming Award
Tom Misteli, head of the Cell Biology of Genomes Group in NCI's Laboratory of Receptor Biology and Gene Expression, has won a 2011 Arthur S. Flemming Award. Misteli's laboratory studies the cell biology of genomes. Defects in genome organization and nuclear architecture are responsible for numerous human diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and muscular dystrophies, and they recently have been linked to human aging. Misteli's lab uses molecular techniques in conjunction with live-cell microscopy to understand how genomes are organized in intact cells and how the spatial organization of genomes contributes to their function. The lab uses several differentiation and disease models, including embryonic and adult stem cells, to elucidate how genome organization contributes to physiological processes and disease, particularly cancer and aging. See his February 2011 article in Scientific American, which created his illustration.
Established by the Downtown Jaycees in 1948, the Flemming Awards honor outstanding federal employees. Winners are selected from all areas of the federal service. The awards were established in honor of Arthur Flemming's commitment to public service throughout his distinguished career, which spanned seven decades and 11 presidencies.
Three NIHers Among PECASE Winners
In July 2012, President Obama named 96 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. Among them were three researchers from the NIH intramural research program: Peter Crompton of NIAID, for his studies on the mechanisms of naturally-acquired immunity to malaria; Daniel Larson of NCI, for his studies on transcription dynamics of single human cells; and Justin Taraska of NHLBI, for his studies on the architecture and control of vesicle fusion in excitable cells. The awardees visited the White House on July 31 for a ceremony and group shot with the President, followed by a local reception at the NIH on August 1.