Created by on 10/06/2011

Over the last few weeks, several FASEB members have been honored with a number of prestigious awards. On October 3rd, the Nobel Foundation announced that Dr. Bruce A. Beutler and Dr. Ralph M. Steinman won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Beutler is a member of The American Association of Immunologists (AAI) and The American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and is now at the Scripps Research Institute in California. Dr. Stein, who passed away three days before the Nobel Foundation’s announcement, was also a member of AAI and ASCI, served as the Director of the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology at Rockefeller University and was a senior physician at the Rockefeller University Hospital. Both scientists provided key insights about the activation and regulation of our immune system, making it possible for new methods to be developed for preventing and treating disease.
In addition, last month President Barack Obama named former FASEB President, Dr. Shu Chien, as one of seven eminent researchers who will receive the prestigious National Medal of Science this year. The award recognizes Chien’s pioneering work in cardiovascular physiology and bioengineering, which has had tremendous impact in the fields of microcirculation, blood rheology, and mechanotransduction in human health and disease. “His leadership shaped the climate for medical research in the United States, and his contributions to science policy helped ensure that the views of bench scientists would be influential in decision-making circles”, noted Dr. Mark O. Lively, in a letter that was included in a nomination package submitted on behalf of Dr. Chien by several colleagues in the scientific community. A professor of bioengineering and Director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at the University of California San Diego, Dr. Chien served as President of FASEB from 1992 – 1993. He currently serves on the FASEB Board, representing the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and is a member of all three U.S. National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine), as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As in his research, Shu Chien’s efforts to promote sound public policy have linked science and engineering, and applied state-of-the-art techniques in innovative ways. In meetings with advocacy partners, members of Congress and administrative officials, he was a tireless and effective advocate for scientists and for research.
The National Medal of Science is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers, and inventors. It was created in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. “Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation and fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” President Obama said. “Their ingenuity inspires us all to reach higher and try harder, no matter how difficult the challenges we face.” The recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony later this year. FASEB congratulates Dr. Chien on this latest recognition of his scientific accomplishments.
Several other members of FASEB societies also recently received accolades, including American Physiological Society and Society for the Study of Reproduction member Dr. Ralph L. Brinster, another winner of the National Medal of Science. Dr. Brinster, a professor of physiology at the University of Pennsylvania, is the first veterinarian to win the National Medal of Science. In the early 1980’s, Brinster and his colleagues made some of the first mice that could be tailored to have a particular disease, which proved to be useful for drug development. Mouse “disease models” are still made this way in university labs around the world. More recently, he has worked with spermatogonial stem cells, which could be used to restore fertility to men undergoing cancer treatments.
In related news, Dr. Arthur Horwich of the Yale School of Medicine was named the 2011 recipient of the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. Dr. Horwich’s discovery of how proteins fold inside cells has immensely contributed to our understanding of how the human body functions. Additionally, Dr. Sarah Otto of the University of British Columbia, Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Dr. Yukiko Yamashita of the University of Michigan were selected as 2011 MacArthur Fellows. Otto’s work as a theoretical biologist has been critical to efforts to address fundamental questions about the complex evolutionary benefits of sexual reproduction. As a researcher and athletic trainer, Dr. Guskiewicz has contributed significantly to understanding the prevalence and dangers of sports-related brain injuries in both professional and youth athletics. Yamashita’s focus on developmental biology has illuminated how the loss of control over stem cell division causes human diseases such as some types of cancer.
Dr. Shu Chien visiting with U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) during FASEB’s 2010 Capitol Hill Day in Washington, DC.