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Two Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Scientists Receive Presidential Early Career Award
Date:7/10/2009

biochemistry and genomics to study the causes and consequences of these genetic conflicts in yeast, fruit flies and other model organisms. His work has offered novel explanations for host-pathogen interactions and for the evolution of structural DNA elements (centromeres) that are critical for proper cell division.

Recently, Malik and colleagues have turned their attention to the phenomenon of "viral mimicry," in which viral proteins can resemble host proteins to hijack important cellular functions. His lab showed that host proteins can evolve to defeat viral mimicry, providing yet another nuance to a never-ending "arms race" between hosts and viruses. The National Science Foundation funded a project of Malik's that will study and identify cases of "reverse mimicry," in which host genomes hijack viral proteins to protect themselves against viral infections. In particular he will focus on such a gene that he discovered while a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Hutchinson Center basic scientist Steven Henikoff, Ph.D.

"Harmit thinks creatively and fearlessly about his research," said colleague Mark T. Groudine, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the Hutchinson Center and former director of the Center's Basic Sciences Division. "His thinking really pushes the envelope, and his ideas have had an enormous impact on the field."

In addition to his research, Malik is dedicated to educating the general public about the role that evolutionary biology plays in the current understanding and practice of medicine. To this end, he and his colleagues make presentations to the Seattle community. His lab is also in the initial stages of developing a course in bioinformatics to be used by high-school science teachers.

Malik, a native of India, received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. He completed his doctoral work in molecular evoluti
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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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