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American Society for Microbiology honors Paul D. Bieniasz

The 2010 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Eli Lilly and Company Research Award is being presented to Paul D. Bieniasz, Ph.D., Staff Investigator, Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, and Associate Professor and Head, Laboratory of Retrovirology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for his work on retrovirus biology. This award recognizes fundamental research of unusual merit in microbiology or immunology by an individual on the threshold of his or her career.

Bieniasz received his Ph.D. from the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of London, UK and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University, Durham, NC. He was recruited by the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in 1999. His earlier work included the characterization of the TRIM5a restriction system in primate, rodent, and human cells, and its overlap with Cyclophilin A effects on virus replication. He also worked on the so-called L-domains and their interaction with the ESCRT system for enveloped virus budding, as well as the identification of the site and route of virus assembly and release at the cell surface. Bieniasz and colleagues generated a SHIV virus that replicates well in monkeys which is a major breakthrough that will facilitate study of vaccines and drugs in a primate model.

Bienasz's most recent and exciting work is his identification of the gene he calls "tetherin." A newly-identified antiviral molecule, tetherin is expressed on the surface of cells and blocks the release of freshly-assembled viral particles. This is a novel mechanism by which hosts can defend themselves against viruses. It appears that the tetherin protein is an active component of the interferon-induced innate immune response. It was known that the block was antagonized by Vpu. It was Bieniasz's dissection of how the absence of Vpu causes retention of new HIV-1 particles on the surface of interferon treated cells that lead to the discovery of tetherin.

The Eli Lilly and Company Research Award will be presented during the 110th General Meeting of the ASM, May 23-27, 2010 in San Diego, CA. ASM is the world's oldest and largest life science organization and has more than 43,000 members worldwide. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences and promote the use of scientific knowledge for improved health and economic and environmental well-being.


Contact: Garth Hogan
American Society for Microbiology

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