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Victor Ambros named co-recipient of 2014 Gruber Genetics Prize
Date:6/17/2014

s and gene expression in plants. This was followed the next year by Ruvkun's twin discoveries that he had found a second microRNAlet-7in C. elegans and that let-7 was evolutionarily conserved across the animal kingdom, including in humans. The results showed that the activity of microRNAs was not just restricted to a single species of worm.

Since this discovery, researchers have identified almost 2,000 unique human miRNAs that are responsible for regulating more than half of all human genes. Study of these and other related classes of small RNAs has exploded into an exciting new field of research. Scientists have linked the gene-silencing abilities of these tiny molecules to a diverse range of important developmental and physiological processes in both plants and animals. miRNAs have now been implicated in a wide range of both normal and pathological activities including embryonic development, blood-cell specialization, muscle function, heart disease and viral infections.

"At one time, these small RNAs were considered just an unimportant scientific oddity," says Huda Y. Zoghbi, MD, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor University and chair of the selection advisory board to the Gruber Prize. "But thanks to the exciting work of Victor Ambros, Gary Ruvkun and David Baulcombe, we now know that they are anything but unimportant, both to human health and to the health of the planet."

Ambros completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as his postdoctoral research, at MIT. After completing his postdoctoral fellowship, Ambros joined the faculty at Harvard in 1984 and remained there until 1992, when he accepted a faculty position at Dartmouth. He arrived at UMass Medical School in 2007. Ambros has maintained a very close collaborative relationship with Ruvkun through the years, though the two have not worked in the same laboratory since the early 1980s.

At UMMS, Ambros continues his research on microRNA function
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Contact: Jim Fessenden
james.fessenden@umassmed.edu
508-856-2000
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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