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American scientist's research of life's first cells

study molecules and evolution.

"The cell, as an evolutionary unit, could emerge from replicating molecules through very simple physical mechanisms," said Chen. "This work suggests that evolving higher levels of biological organization might have been surprisingly easy during the origin of life."

Born in San Diego, California, to Taiwanese-American parents, Chen majored in chemistry at Harvard University, and as an undergraduate studied molecular recognition in the laboratory of Gregory Verdine. She then entered the MD-PhD program and under the mentorship of Jack Szostak, she investigated the biophysics of the origin of life - work that was recognized by the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award.

"The award, now in its twelfth year, aims to recognize outstanding PhD graduate students from around the world and reward their research in the field of molecular biology," said Peter Ehrenheim, president of GE Healthcare Life Sciences. "Both Science/AAAS and GE believe that support of promising scientists at the beginning of their careers is critical for continued scientific progress."

Each year since 1995, the GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists has recognized outstanding young molecular biologists at an early stage of their careers. Some 54 regional winners and 12 grand prize winners have so far received the award, honoring exceptional thesis work in the field of molecular biology.

Applicants for the 2006 GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists earned their PhD degrees in 2005 and submitted a 1,000-word essay based on their dissertations. Their essays were judged on the quality of research and the applicants' ability to articulate how their work would contribute to the field of molecular biology, which investigates biological processes in terms of the physical and chemical properties of molecules in a cell.

A judging panel selects the GE & Science Prize for Young Life Sc
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Source:American Association for the Advancement of Science


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