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PNNL's Richard Smith named to prestigious Scientific American 50 list of outstanding leaders

Richland, Wash. Richard D. Smith, Battelle Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been named one of 50 outstanding leaders in the 2007 Scientific American 50. Each year the magazine recognizes its list of 50 key contributors in science and technology. Smith shared the honor for creating a new approach to neurological diagnostics with a colleague from UCLAs David Geffen School of Medicine, Desmond Smith.

Smiths research may help identify the earliest detectable stages of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological diseases. Smiths findings indicate that many neurodegenerative diseases leave a biochemical calling card, or biomarker, that may be used to predict early stages of brain impairment. The understandings from this research may result in the discovery of drug targets for new theraputic approaches. Many biomedical researchers also believe that detecting disease states before symptoms occur is key to reversing many as-yet-incurable diseases.

Smiths work led to the mapping of proteins in brain tissues. This mapping has allowed scientists to examine the location and abundance of large numbers of proteins within healthy brain tissue, which can be compared to protein portraits found within diseased brain tissues. These differences may help identify neurological diseases at a very early stage and proteins that might be targeted for drug intervention. Its hoped that such diseases might be curbed if caught and treated early enough.

Associate Laboratory Director for Fundamental & Computational Sciences, Doug Ray, said, Dick Smith and his team have pushed the frontiers of proteomics instrumentation far beyond what we imagined just a few years ago. By integrating new ideas into the tools available to conduct research, they have made comprehensive proteomic mapping possible.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and PNNL's Biomolecular Systems Initiative. Most of the work was conducted at the Department of Energy's W.R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a national scientific user facility located at PNNL.

The Board of Editors of Scientific American magazine selected Smith as one of 50 honorees chosen annually for accomplishments in research, business or policymaking, and demonstration of leadership in shaping both established and emerging technologies.

Past Scientific American 50 winners include stem cell researcher Douglas Melton, Nobel prize-winning neurobiologist Roderick MacKinnon, former World Health Organization Secretary General Gro Harlem Brundtland, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The complete list of this years winners for the SA 50 appears in the January 2008 issue of Scientific American. It can also be viewed on the magazines Web site,


Contact: Geoff Harvey
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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