ASCB Kaluza Prizes for Excellence in Graduate Education Past Winners
Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts
University of Michigan
Guangbo Chen, a former graduate student in Rong Li’s lab at the Stowers Institute, is the 2015 $5,000 Kaluza Prize winner. He won for his discovery that aneuploidy can be caused by increased cell-stress, and for showing that cells with stress-induced aneuploidy can be eradicated by a dual-stress “evolutionary trap” that could be used to treat cancer and fungal infections.
Uri Ben-David, now a postdoc at the Broad Institute at of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was selected as the $3,000 Kaluza Prize winner. He won for his work in Nissim Benvenisty’s lab at Hebrew University of Jerusalem developing methods to analyze the genetic stability of human induced pluripotent stem cells, and linked the genetic instability of some cells to their likelihood of becoming cancerous. Ben-David also developed strategies to eliminate the tumor-causing cells.
Pavithra Aravamudha won $1,000 for discovering the mechanism of the spindle assembly checkpoint, a critical signaling pathway that monitors the attachment between chromosomes and spindle microtubules. Her work was done in Ajit Joglekar’s lab at University of Michigan.
The selection committee said Chen’s, Ben-David’s, and Aravamudha’s outstanding work moves cell biology into new and important directions. All three are poised to become leaders in cell biology, the committee noted. Seven additional Kaluza finalists will receive travel awards to attend the 2015 ASCB Meeting in San Diego. All 10 winners and finalists will be recognized at a special presentation just before the Keith R. Porter Lecture on Sunday, December 13. Each will also be invited to give a talk at a Kaluza Scientific Minisymposium on Monday, December 14.
Lindsay Case discovered that specific proteins organize into distinct nanodomains, which regulates protein activity within focal adhesion complexes. She did her work at National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Lukas Chmatal developed a system to study the translocation of part of a chromosome to another nonhomologous chromosome (Robertsonian fusion) during meiosis. He found that increased microtubule binding leads to a gene transmission advantage during meiosis. His work was done at the University of Pennsylvania.
Phillip Dumesic identified a new function for introns and the spliceosome in genome defense. His work raises the possibility that introns are pervasive in eukaryotic genomes because of their contribution to self/non-self recognition. His work was done at the University of California, San Francisco.
Laura Gaydos showed epigenetic transmission of genomic information from parent to offspring and through cell divisions by studying proteins that modify histone tails and chromatin. Her work was done at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Ryan Flynn identified important regulators of RNA and RNA synthesis, and determined the molecular functions of 7SK snRNA. His work was done at Stanford University
Kailin Mesa established that environmental signals can lead to various stem cell behaviors as well as allow cells to remain flexible to variable demands on the tissue. His work was done at Yale University.
Graham Walmsley discovered a lineage of skin cells responsible for scarring, and a small molecule that inhibits those cells’ activity and reduces scarring. His work was done at Stanford University School of Medicine.
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Eleanor (Josie) Clowney, a postdoc at Rockefeller University who did her graduate work at the University of California, San Francisco, has been named the winner of the 2014 $5,000 ASCB Kaluza Prize for outstanding research by a graduate student. The Kaluza Prizes are supported by Beckman Coulter. Clowney won for her breakthrough work on olfactory neurons performed in Stavros Lomvardas’ lab. Her work provides a new perspective on how acute transcriptional specificity can be achieved through epigenetic mechanisms.
Eunyong Park, now a postdoc at Rockefeller University, won $3,000 for the insights into the mechanism of SecY/Sec61-mediated translocation that he achieved as a graduate student at Harvard University.
Jiaxi Wu, a graduate student at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, is the winner of the $1,000 prize for his work on the mechanisms by which DNA triggers innate immune responses, including the discovery that DNA sensing involves a second messenger in eukaryotes and the discovery of the cyclic guanosine monophosphate–adenosine monophosphate synthase cGAS.
The selection committee said Clowney’s, Park’s, and Wu’s research has broad implications for cell biology, and identified the three as future leaders in the field. Seven additional Kaluza finalists were named ASCB Beckman Coulter Distinguished Graduate Student Achievement Prize winners and will receive travel awards and free meeting registration to attend the 2014 ASCB/IFCB Meeting in Philadelphia. All 10 winners and finalists will be recognized at a special presentation just before the Keith R. Porter Lecture on Sunday, December 7 at 6:45 pm. Each will also be invited to give a talk at a new Kaluza Minisymposium on Monday, December 8 from 4:00 pm–6:25 pm.
Lilian Kabeche uncovered new mechanisms for the regulation of microtubule to kinetochore attachments, including the discovery that cyclin A acts to ensure the proper segregation of chromosomes. Her work was done at Dartmouth College
Amy shyer disocvered the mechanical mechanism of by which villi emerge in the gut during development. She did this work at Harvard Medical School.
Vuong Tran discovered that stem cells retain epigenetic signatures that define their identities and for beginning to elucidate the mechanisms that maintain these epigenetic changes. He did this work at Johns Hopkins University.
Tslil Ast discovered new mechanisms which proteins translocate into the ER without the standard machinery and discovering an unknown monitoring mechanism for these proteins. He did this work at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Yali Zhang showed how genes and the environment control food-preferences by discovering how gustatory receptor neurons in fruit flies are affected by a food additive and salt. He did this work at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.
James Kraemer solved the structure of a bacteriophage tubulin, PhuZ, which helped him understand the novel architecture and function of this protein that was previously unknown in viruses. His work was done at the University of California, San Francisco.
Olga Afonso showed that chromosome separation during the anaphase-telophase transition is actively monitored by an Aurora B phosphorylation gradient. Her work was done at the Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology, Portugal.
Tina W. Han, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who did her graduate work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern), has been named the winner of the first $5,000 ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter for outstanding research by a graduate student. Han won for her breakthrough work on the functional characterization of RNA granules while in Steven McKnight’s lab at UT Southwestern. Nine additional Kaluza entrants were named winners of ASCB Beckman Coulter Distinguished Graduate Student Achievement Prizes, which will include travel awards to attend the 2014 ASCB Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
Han was the unanimous choice of the selection committee, according to ASCB President Don Cleveland, who served as a judge along with ASCB President-Elect Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, and longtime ASCB member Peter Walter. Identifying Han as a future leader in cell biology, the selection committee said that her research has broad implications for the study of synaptic transmission and neurodegenerative disease, describing her work as presenting a novel way of thinking about cellular organization.
Han will be awarded a check for the $5,000 ASCB Kaluza Prize supported by Beckman Coulter at a special presentation just before the Keith R. Porter Lecture at the 2013 ASCB Annual Meeting in New Orleans on Sunday, December 15, at 6:30 pm.