Bernfield, Gilula Awardees Named
Panteleimon Rompolas, a New York Stem Cell Foundation–Druckemiller Fellow at Yale
University School of Medicine, will receive the 13th annual ASCB Merton Bernfield
Memorial Award at this year’s Annual Meeting. Wenwen Fang, now a postdoctoral
fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, will receive the 13th annual
ASCB Norton B. Gilula Award in recognition of her work as a graduate student at
The selection committee recognized Rompolas’s initiative and vision, key features
for a successful scientific career. As a graduate student with Stephen King at the
University of Connecticut Health Center, his focus was on motile cilia and identifying
and biochemically characterizing key genes in the model organism
Some of his major findings include the identification and characterization of novel
ciliary components involved in cilia motility and biogenesis and the elucidation of a
novel ciliary function of a gene (Lis1) responsible for a neurogenerative disease called
lissenchephaly. Moreover, to overcome the limitations of existing experimental tools,
Rompolas worked to develop planaria as a tractable genetic model in which to study
cilia. His graduate work resulted in six papers, four as first author, two book chapters
Methods in Cell Biology
Methods in Enzymology,
and an invitation to speak at a
Gordon Conference on cilia in February 2011.
When Rompolas joined Valentina Greco’s lab at Yale, he recognized that expansion of
knowledge about regeneration mechanisms is greatly limited by the available approaches.
He was able to visualize for the first time a mammalian stem cell niche, the skin hair
follicle, in real time with a noninvasive two-photon imaging approach. In addition,
Rompolas studied the behaviors and functional contribution to regeneration of stem cells
at the single cell and population level over time. He established a system to manipulate
niche components to reveal the requirement and mechanisms of action of the niche
during regeneration. He has published his work on stem cells as first author of two
. Rompolas has received several fellowships and grants and obtained an invitation to present at a Keystone
The Bernfield Award honors a postdoctoral fellow or graduate student who has excelled in research. Rompolas will speak
in a Minisymposium at the 2013 ASCB Annual Meeting. As the Bernfield Award recipient, he will receive free Annual
Meeting registration, airfare, complimentary hotel accommodations, a per diem allowance, a plaque, and an honorarium.
Fang is being recognized for her discovery that transiently available small RNAs can act as guardians of the genome
and effect heritable DNA sequence change across generations. This novel and important discovery in the ciliate
uncovered a new role for small RNAs as powerful trans-generational carriers of epigenetic information. Her results suggest
that an “evolutionary sign change” has occurred in the targeting strategy of small RNAs during the deep evolutionary
divergence of these unicellular species. Fang has received several prestigious awards, the first of which was the Silver Medal
for National Biology Olympiad Competition in 2002 and most recently the 2013 Scaringe Award of the RNA Society. She
has published five papers, three as first author. Fang’s publications and increasing numbers of presentations at local, national,
and international meetings, together with her enthusiasm as a colleague and willingness to take on important, creative
challenges, all support her selection for the Gilula Award.
The Gilula Award is supported by The Rockefeller University Press and recognizes an outstanding graduate or
undergraduate student who has excelled in research. Fang will receive free Annual Meeting registration, airfare,
complimentary hotel accommodations, a per diem allowance, a plaque, and a ribbon at her poster.
ASCB congratulates the awardees and thanks the many nominators and the Bernfield/Gilula Awards Joint Selection
Committee Chair and Committee members. Nominating others for ASCB awards is a privilege of ASCB membership.
—Cheryl Lehr, ASCB Executive Assistant/Office Manager;Valentina Greco, Yale University; and Laura Landweber,