NYU School of Medicine Presents Three Biomedical Researchers 2013 Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Awards for Role of Pure Science

April 16, 2013 - 2:23pm

The Biotechnology Study Center of NYU School of Medicine held its 13th annual awards symposium on April 15, 2013, to honor three outstanding leaders in biomedical research. The Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Awards recognize the role of pure science in the development of pharmaceuticals and honors those scientists whose work has led to major advances to improving care provided at the patient’s bedside. Recipients of this year’s award include:

Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Award in Basic Biotechnology:

  • Susan L. Lindquist, PhD,Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for basic studies of protein folding and phenotypic adaptation: “Epigenetics in the Extreme.”

Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Award in Applied Biotechnology:

  • Paul A. Marks, MD, Cell Biology Program, Medicine, Experimental Therapeutics Center, President Emeritus, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute, for the first clinically approved histone deacetylase inhibitor for the treatment of cancer. 
Dart/NYU Biotechnology Faculty/Alumnus Award:
  • Joel N. Buxbaum, MD, Professor and Head, Division of Research Rheumatology, W.M. Keck Autoimmune Disease Center, The Scripps Research Institute, for studies of amyloid-forming proteins in heart and brain.

We applaud the honorees of this year’s award for pioneering research that has changed our understanding and treatment of human disease. Dr. Lindquist has explained how proteins fold in the cell to perform their normal functions and how misfolded proteins behave in neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s. Dr. Marks and colleagues have discovered a new class of anti-cancer drugs, one of which (vorinostat) is effective in human leukemia. Dr. Buxbaum has established how genetic mutations in normal serum proteins (transthyretin), can influence the basic pathology of amyloidoses or Alzheimer’s disease. “The work of these scientists,” said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, research professor of medicine and Director of the Biotechnology Study Center at NYU School of Medicine, “has described in detail the basic biology that underlies diseases of the blood and brain. They have also shown the way for biotechnology to provide a cure.”

The Biotechnology Study Center is an academic center for the study of biotechnology with the end-goal of significantly improving public health. The Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Awards have been supported by a generous grant from Dart NeuroScience LLC since 2004 and are awarded on behalf of the Fellows of the Center at The Biotechnology Study Center.

BACKGROUND ON 2013 AWARD RECIPIENTS:

Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Award in Basic Biotechnology:

Susan L. Lindquist, PhD, Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Dr. Lindquist is a world leader in the study of protein folding and its cellular chaperones. Using what has been called a zoo of neat genetic systems, including yeast, fruit flies, Arabidopsis, and mice, her work has helped the understanding of diseases that range from mad cow disease (prions) to Alzheimer’s (amyloid fibrils). She has demonstrated that prions permit cell survival in challenging environments; she has called this rapid evolution of complex traits “Epigenetics in the Extreme.” Prions are also implicated in long-term memory, as shown in her collaboration with Eric R. Kandel, MD, University Professor, Fred Kavli Professor and Director, Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University.

Dr. Lindquist has also shown how chaperones – heat shock proteins – control the folding of proteins involved in signal transduction pathways and how these interactions control the evolution of new traits. Most recently, her group has worked out novel ways of correcting protein-folding errors that drive neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Lindquist is a Member and former Director (2001-2004) of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a Professor of Biology at MIT. She received her undergraduate degree in Microbiology from the University of Illinois, and a PhD in Biology from Harvard University where she was the student of a previous Dart-NYU Award winner, Matthew Meselson, PhD, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences, Harvard University.

She was the Albert D. Lasker Professor of Medical Sciences from 1999-2001 at the University of Chicago until her return to Boston. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Philosophical Society, and the Institute of Medicine. Her honors include the Dickson Prize in Medicine, the Otto-Warburg Prize, the FASEB Excellence in Science Award, the Max Delbrück Medal, the Mendel Medal and the E.B. Wilson Medal. In 2009, she was the recipient of the U.S. National Medal of Science.

Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Award in Applied Biotechnology:

Paul A. Marks, MD, Cell Biology Program, Medicine, Experimental Therapeutics Center, President Emeritus, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Dr. Marks is president emeritus and a member of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he served as President and CEO 1980 to 1999. Marks and colleagues discovered the histone deacetylase inhibitor, SAHA (vorinostat), which was the first of this new class of targeted anti-cancer agents to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating patients with cutaneous T–cell lymphoma. Dr. Marks’s studies began with basic studies in which cancer cells were induced to undergo cell growth arrest and/or cell death with various polar/planar chemicals. In collaboration with Dr. Ronald Breslow, University Professor at Columbia University, and colleagues at Columbia and Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Dr. Marks discovered suberolyl analide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), a drug that blocks a group of enzymes, histone deacetylases (HDACs). HDACs modify the structure of proteins by affecting histones and many non-histone proteins that control gene expression, cell growth and cell death. HDAC inhibitors such as vorinosts are now being evaluated in clinical trials for many other tumors, autoimmune disorders and neurodegenerative disease.

Dr. Marks graduated from Columbia College and the College of Physicians & Surgeons. After post-doctoral fellowships at the National Institute’s of Health (NIH) with Arthur Kornberg, MD,  and Bernard Horecker, PhD, and as visiting scientist at Pasteur Institute (Jacques Monod), he returned to Columbia, emerging as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1970 to 1973, and director of the Cancer Center and Vice President for the Health Sciences from 1973 to 1980.

Since 2000, Dr. Marks has been head of the Laboratory of Developmental Cell Biology at the Sloan-Kettering Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, The American Philosophical Society, and American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Among many honors are several honorary degrees and the Japan Medal for Cancer Research. In 1991, he was the recipient of the U.S. National Medal of Science.

Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Faculty/Alumnus Award:

Joel N. Buxbaum, MD,Professor & Head, Division of Research Rheumatology, W.M. Keck Autoimmune Disease Center, The Scripps Research Institute

Dr. Buxbaum is Professor of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. He has investigated disorders of protein conformation, chiefly the hereditary and sporadic amyloidoses caused by transthyretin. He has identified mutations in this systemic amyloid precursor and developed transgenic models for mutant and wild type forms of transthyretin. One such mutation in this protein may be responsible for as much as ten percent of congestive heart failure in elderly African-Americans. He has now identified new functions for transthyretin and related these to resistance to amyloid deposits, particularly in the central nervous system. Indeed, transthyretin may have an anti-amyloid function in Alzheimer’s disease both in vivo and in vitro, a finding that may well be shared by other amyloid precursor pairs. This apparently common phenomenon raises the question whether other proteins – via heterotypic interactions – may serve as “non-professional chaperones” while their mutant versions lead to pathologic aggregation via homotypic interactions.

Dr. Buxbaum, a graduate of Union College and the Tuft Medical School, completed five years of post-doctoral research with E.C. Franklin at NYU School of Medicine and Matthew Scharff at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He rose to the rank of full professor at NYU School of Medicine until 1999, when he moved to Scripps. He has been elected to the American Society for Clinic Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.  He has served on numerous review panels including the Advisory Council of the National Human Genome Research Institute and as the Chairperson of the Clinical and Investigative Research Council of the American Cancer Society. He is currently a Senior Scholar in Aging of the Ellison Foundation.

Previous awardees from this year’s institutions include:

MIT:         Alexander Rich, MD, Eugene Bell, PhD, Leonard Guarente, PhD, Eric S. Lander, PhD

MSKCC:   Mark S. Ptashne, PhD

Scripps:   Richard A. Lerner, MD, Charles Weissmann, MD, PhD

 
Media Inquiries:
Lisa Greiner
212-404-3500 | lisa.greiner@nyumc.org