Navigation Links
Columbia to award 2007 Horwitz Prize to three generations of teacher-student scientists

NEW YORK Columbia University will award the 2007 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to Joseph G. Gall, Ph.D., a cell biologist at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Embryology, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., a biologist and physiologist at the University of California, San Francisco and Carol W. Greider, Ph.D., a molecular biologist and geneticist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The awardees, who represent three generations of teacher-student scientists, will be honored for work that has contributed to the fundamental understanding of the aging process.

The relationships among these three researchers represent the best promise of academic medicine science educators guiding their students toward discovery that furthers understandings for the entire biomedical and science community, said Lee Goldman, M.D., executive vice president of Columbia University and dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

We are pleased to continue our Horwitz tradition by awarding this years prize to Joseph Gall, Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider, said David Hirsh, Ph.D., executive vice president for research at Columbia University. Our greater knowledge of the aging process, based on their research, is already impacting the study of cell cycles and cell death which is relevant to understanding neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.

The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize was established by Columbia University to recognize outstanding contributions to basic research in the fields of biology and biochemistry. Awarded annually since 1967, the prize is named for the mother of Columbia benefactor S. Gross Horwitz. Louisa Gross Horwitz was daughter of Dr. Samuel David Gross, author of A System of Surgery and a founder of the American Medical Association. For additional information about the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, visit:

The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Lectures, presentations by the scientists, will be held on Monday, November 19. Dr. Gall will give his lecture at 10 a.m. in the Roone Arledge Cinema, Alfred Lerner Hall (2920 Broadway at W. 115th St.) at Columbia Universitys Morningside Campus. Dr. Blackburn will give her lecture at 1:30 p.m., followed by Dr. Greiders lecture at 3 p.m., both in the College of Physicians & Surgeons building (650 West 168th Street), Alumni Auditorium, at Columbia University Medical Center. For more information about the lectures, visit

These researchers representing three generations of science passed down from teacher to student have all contributed to the fundamental understanding of the process of aging, a body of work of enormous depth and value that may lead us to the discovery of keys to longevity and mortality, said Andrew R. Marks, M.D., chair of the Horwitz Prize Committee at Columbia University. Dr. Marks is the Wu Professor of Molecular Cardiology and chairman of the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Pursuit of Basic Questions about Cell Workings Leads to Insights into Aging & Cancer

Work by these researchers led to discovery of the structure of telomeres and telomerase. It was started to answer two very fundamental questions: what prevents the cell from destroying its own chromosomes, and what prevents the chromosomes from shrinking.

Before the late 1970s and 1980s when the prize-winning work was performed, there were two mysteries about chromosomes. One, chromosomes are long lines of DNA so they have two ends, but cells recognize accidental breaks in chromosomes by their broken ends why dont the cells try to repair the ends of chromosomes" And even if they did, this might have negative consequences, e.g. a cell could join two different chromosomes together.

The second puzzle arose following discovery of how DNA copies itself. The process cannot copy the very ends of the chromosomes. So if the DNA is copied repeatedly (as in development, when DNA of one cell is copied in all subsequent cells) the chromosome eventually shortens so much that the cells are no longer viable.

Researchers surmised that something unusual was occurring at the ends of the chromosomes, known as telomeres.

Using animal models developed by Dr. Gall, Dr. Blackburn, then a research fellow in his lab at Yale, discovered a special DNA sequence TTAGGG in humans that is found nearly identically at the telomeres of nearly every type of animal and plant species. The telomeres protect the ends of the chromosomes and prevent them from opening up, which could result in separation of the two strands of DNA. Thus, the telomeres act as clamps on the ends of the chromosomes. In humans, there are thousands of these segments at the end of a chromosome.

Later, in Dr. Blackburns laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley, she and Dr. Carol Grieder, then a research fellow, discovered an enzyme central to aging and cancer, which they named telomerase.

Though Drs. Gall, Blackburn and Greider did not set out to answer questions about aging, telomerase has provided answers. The sequencing of the telomeres and the discovery of telomerase has lead to an entirely new field of research that has yielded insights into the mechanisms of aging and the causes of cancer.

Because most human cells have limited amounts of telomerase, they have a limited lifespan. Adding telomerase to human cells in culture dishes makes cells immortal, giving telomerase a dark side: almost all cancer cells produce telomerase to fuel their uncontrollable proliferation. Drugs that inhibit telomerase are currently being sought as potential new treatments for cancer.


Contact: Elizabeth Streich
Columbia University Medical Center

Related biology news :

1. Columbia research lifts major hurdle to gene therapy for cancer
2. Columbia study shows widely used artery clearing device does not help patients during heart attack
3. Columbia scientists develop cancer terminator viruses
4. Contaminants linked to sturgeon decline in Columbia river
5. Columbia University licenses next-generation DNA sequencing technology
6. New bird discovered on unexplored Columbian mountain
7. Columbia scientists determine 3-dimensional structure of cells fuel gauge
8. NJIT Presidential Award winner takes stem cell research another step
9. TGen awarded $7.1 million to accelerate brain disease research
10. Virtual microscopy project wins educational technology award
11. LEGO-Like building blocks to halt cell growth wins Hebrew University prize
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/20/2016)... 20, 2016  VoiceIt is excited to announce ... By working together, VoiceIt and VoicePass ... and VoicePass take slightly different approaches to voice ... security and usability. ... new partnership. "This marketing and technology ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... and BANGALORE, India , April 28, ... Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ... announced a global partnership that will provide end ... use mobile banking and payment services.      (Logo: ... key innovation area for financial services, but it also plays ...
(Date:4/15/2016)...  A new partnership announced today will help ... in a fraction of the time it takes ... life insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient ... Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and ... weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today ... trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The ... ascending dose studies designed to assess the safety, ... injection in healthy adult volunteers. Forty ... a single dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 Published ... the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D ... cost of cancer care is placing an increasing ... of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents on ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... (EDC) software, is exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its ... Annual conference. ClinCapture will also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Velocity Products, a division ... tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC machining centers at The International Manufacturing ... collaboration among several companies with expertise in toolholding, cutting tools, machining dynamics and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: