WORCESTER, MA Victor R. Ambros, PhD, professor of molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has been awarded the 2014 Gruber Genetics Prize, along with long time collaborator Gary Ruvkun, PhD, professor of genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and David Baulcombe, PhD, professor of botany at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Ambros, the Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences and co-director of the RNA Therapeutics Institute, and his scientific colleagues, received the prize for their pioneering discoveries of the existence and function of microRNAs and small interfering RNAs, molecules that are now known to play a critical role in gene expression.
"The discoveries of these three pioneering scientists have opened major new areas in chemistry, biology, agriculture and medicine, and have revealed fundamental mechanisms that are shared among organisms as diverse as plants and animals, including humans," said H. Robert Horvitz, PhD, Gruber and Nobel Prize laureate, and David H. Koch Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Established in 2001, the Gruber Genetics Prize is awarded for fundamental insights in the field of genetics and may include original discoveries in genetic function, regulation, transmission and variation, as well as in genomic organization. The prize, which is awarded along with a gold medal and an unrestricted $500,000 cash award, will be presented to the recipients in San Diego on Oct. 19 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.
The unlikely discovery of microRNAs, also known as miRNA, and their function dates back to the 1980s when Ambros and Dr. Ruvkun were both postdoctoral fellows in the lab of Dr. Horvitz at MIT, studying how the lin-4 and lin-14 genes regulate developmental timing in the nematode C. elegans. Ambros and Ruvkun wanted to understand how mutations of the lin-4 kept the worm's larvae from developin
|Contact: Jim Fessenden|
University of Massachusetts Medical School