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Young scientist at Virginia Commonwealth University wins Avanti prize

BETHESDA, Md., April 7, 2011 The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology named Charles E. Chalfant, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, Va., the winner of the nonprofit's Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research.

Chalfant, also a research career scientist at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center in Richmond, will present an award lecture, titled "Ceramide and Ceramide-1-phosphate: Enigmatic Lipids Generating New Signaling Paradigms," at the Experimental Biology 2011 conference in Room 202A of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Chalfant is also a research career scientist at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center in Richmond.

In support of Chalfant's nomination, Lina M. Obeid, professor of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said he "exemplifies the ideal young scientist in the lipid community."

"He is enthusiastic, always willing to help, participates in several important initiatives in the field of lipids and is clearly a highly positive influence to the lipid scientific community. These include organizing and obtaining NIH funding for lipid-related scientific conferences and serving on [National Institutes of Health] study sections as an advocate for lipid-related research," she wrote. "In fact, it is astounding how much Dr. Chalfant has been able to accomplish in advancing lipid research at such an early stage in his career while carrying a solid load of a productive scientist and academician."

Chalfant joined the faculty of VCU and began doing research at the VA medical center in 2003. He has been a member of ASBMB since 1999 and now serves as an editorial board member of the Journal of Lipid Research.

"His groundbreaking studies on regulation of alternative splicing of Bcl-X and caspase-9 by ceramide provided an answer to the long-sought-after function of ceramide in apoptosis. His seminal discovery that ceramide-1-phosphate is a direct allosteric regulator of cPLA2 has uncovered a novel function of this sphingolipid metabolite in regulating eicosanoid biosynthesis. These discoveries already have established him as a rising star in lipid research," said VCU colleague Sarah Spiegel, who nominated Chalfant for the award.

Chalfant completed his bachelor's degree in 1992 at the University of Tampa and his doctoral degree in 1997 at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. He also served as a research associate at Duke University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina.

The Avanti Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research consists of a plaque, $2,000 and travel expenses to present a lecture at the ASBMB annual meeting in April in Washington, D.C.


Contact: Angela Hopp
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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Young scientist at Virginia Commonwealth University wins Avanti prize
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