Navigation Links
UMass Medical School researcher Victor Ambros receives Gairdner Award, Franklin Medal

WORCESTER, Mass. University of Massachusetts Medical School professor of molecular medicine Victor R. Ambros, PhD, whose discovery of microRNAs (mRNAs)opened a dramatic new world of investigation into developmental biology, will receive the 2008 Gairdner International Award, considered one of the most prestigious in science. Dr. Ambros shares the award with collaborator Gary Ruvkun, PhD, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, with whom he discovered micro miRNAs. Ambros will be a keynote speaker at the awards luncheon today in Toronto, at which all six Gairdner Award winners will be honored.

When we recruited Dr. Ambros to campus, we knew his presence would have a profound impact on our growing RNA community, and the Gairdner Award underscores that impact, said Michael F. Collins, MD, interim chancellor of UMMS. He is an integral part of a remarkable group of RNA scientists here at UMMS who, together, are advancing our understanding of biological mechanisms and furthering the field of biomedical science.

microRNAs play such a fundamental role in the regulation of numerous normal cellular processes. The hope is that the discovery of mircroRNAs will open the door to a deeper understanding of complex processes such as cancer, aging, inflammatory diseases and normal growth and development. With the outstanding scientific contributions of Dr. Ambros and his colleagues at UMMS, that hope becomes much more attainable, said Terence R. Flotte, M.D., Dean of the School of Medicine, Provost and Executive Deputy Chancellor.

Nationally sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Canadas agency for health research, the award recognizes outstanding contributions by medical scientists worldwide whose work will significantly improve the quality of life. Established in 1957 by Toronto businessman James Gairdner, the Gairdner Foundation first recognized achievements in medical science in 1959. Since that time, the Gairdner Award, dubbed the Canadian Nobel, has grown to become one of the most prestigious international awards in medical research. According to the Gairdner Foundation, 70 of the 288 prior winners have gone on to win a Nobel Prize.

Ambross UMMS colleague Craig C. Mello, PhD, who is the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, received the Gairdner in 2005 for his work in the discovery of RNA interference with Andrew Z. Fire, PhD, of Stanford University School of Medicine. Mello and Fire later received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the same work.

Also this week, at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Ambros and Ruvkun will receive the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Sciences for their discovery. Also recognized with them will be David C. Baulcombe, PhD, of The Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Centre in Norwich, England. The three will join six other individuals being honored with Benjamin Franklin Medals. The Franklin Institute Awards, considered by many to be a precursor to the Nobel Prize, are awarded for outstanding achievements that have directly and positively impacted and enhanced the quality of human life and deepened our understanding of the universe.

The Franklin Institute Awards Program dates back to 1824, when the Institute was established to train artisans and mechanics in the fundamentals of engineering and science. Past laureates have included Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, Jacques Cousteau, Gordon Moore and Jane Goodall. 108 Franklin laureates have won 110 Nobel prizes (2 won twice) and over 50 were recognized by The Franklin Institute prior to Nobel, often decades before, for the same work. Spanning three centuries, this program is among the most widely known and effective awards programs in existence.

Ambros is widely regarded as a central figure in RNA biology for his work in identifying microRNAs, the very short (20-24 nucleotide-long) single-stranded RNA molecules that are understood to play a critical role in gene regulation. microRNAs were originally discovered by Ambros and his lab in 1993 in the pathways controlling embryonic development in the nematode worm C. elegans, and at first seemed related only to a specific event in the worms development, and nothing more. Some years later, however, colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Whitehead Institute and the Max Planck Institute found more microRNAs, and since then, Ambros and others have identified a wide variety of genes for diverse microRNAs in animals and plants, raising new questions about gene regulation and expression. The discovery garnered the Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 2003 for the most significant paper published in the journal Science, an award given by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Others being presented with the Gairdner International Award are

  • Dr. Nahum Sonenberg, PhD, Professor, Department of Biochemistry and McGill Cancer Centre, McGill University in Montreal, for his discovery of important mechanisms that control the synthesis of proteins in human cells;

  • Dr. Samuel Weiss, PhD, Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy and Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Calgary, for the discovery that the adult brain produces stem cells that can be used to re-grow damaged neural tissue;

  • Professor Harald zur Hausen, DSc, MD, Professor Emeritus and recent Chair and Scientific Director of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, who discovered that the human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer, a discovery that led directly to the HPV vaccine; and

  • Dr. Allan Bernstein, OC, PhD, Executive Director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York.


Contact: Alison Duffy
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Related biology news :

1. UMass Medical School researchers receive $8.5M grant award to fight AIDS
2. Journal of Womens Health named official journal of American Medical Womens Association
3. Chloroform provides clue to 150 year old medical puzzle
4. Springer expands publishing partnership with the Biomedical Engineering Society
5. The top 5 ways medical physics has changed health care
6. Analysis calls for medical device information to better serve patients and doctors
7. 2 federal public health grants awarded to Weill Cornell Medical College
8. Stanford researchers publish review of US medical device regulation
9. Radioactive understudy may aid medical imaging, drug development
10. U. Mass Medical School and Carnegie announce licensing agreements with Oxford BioMedica
11. Medical breakthrough for organ transplants and cardiovascular diseases by Flemish researchers
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)... 2015  Arxspan has entered into an agreement ... for use of its ArxLab cloud-based suite of ... partnership will support the institute,s efforts to electronically ... information internally and with external collaborators. The ArxLab ... the Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound and assay ...
(Date:11/10/2015)...  In this report, the biomarkers market ... type, application, disease indication, and geography. The ... consumables, services, software. The type segments included ... biomarkers, and validation biomarkers. The applications segments ... drug discovery and development, personalized medicine, disease ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... of human interface solutions, today announced broader entry into ... of vehicle-specific solutions that match the pace of consumer ... drivers, and biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive ... the vehicle. Europe , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... in scientifically backed, age-defying products, is featured as the cover story and ... success and unrivaled opportunities that Nerium provides. Success from Home magazine routinely ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... 1, 2015 Dr. Harry Lander , President of Regen, ... Chief Science Officer and recruits five distinguished ... , President of Regen, expands his role to include ... recruits five distinguished scientists to join advisory team ... his role to include serving as Chief ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... DUBLIN , December 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... the addition of the  "2016 U.K. Virology ... Segment Forecasts for 100 Tests, Supplier Shares ... Opportunities"  report to their offering.  --> ... of the  "2016 U.K. Virology and Bacteriology ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Global Stem Cells Group ... in the Santiago Marriott. The Global Stem Cells Group GMP facility is equipped ... of qualified medical researchers and practitioners, experienced in administering stem cell protocols using ...
Breaking Biology Technology: