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1999 Grand Prize Winner

Figure 1Victor E. Velculescu received the grand prize for his essay, "Tantalizing Transcriptomes--SAGE and Its Use in Global Gene Expression Analysis." Dr. Velculescu was born on 16 August 1970 in Bucharest, Romania, and grew up in Thousand Oaks, California. He attended Stanford University where he became interested in molecular biology, pursuing research in the Department of Biochemistry and earning his bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences in 1992. He subsequently attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he decided to focus his interests in the molecular analysis of human disease. He joined the laboratory of Ken Kinzler at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center and soon thereafter began working to develop a method to analyze gene expression patterns. After completing a proof-in-principle experiment for serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE), he decided to see if the method could be used to characterize global gene expression patterns in an organism whose genome had been entirely sequenced. In collaboration with Phil Hieter's lab at Hopkins, he used SAGE to study gene expression in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae characterizing for the first time a "transcriptome," the set of genes expressed from a eukaryotic genome. For the last part of his thesis, he has used SAGE to analyze gene expression in cancer cells and in other human transcriptomes. He was awarded his Ph.D. in the Program of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology in 1998 and his M.D. in 1999. Since January 1999, Dr. Velculescu has been working as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Bert Vogelstein at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center studying the molecular genetics of colon cancer.

Regional Winners

Figure 2Europe: Giles E. Hardingham, for his essay, "The Flexibility of the Calcium Signal in Activating Gene Expression," reporting work performed at the Medical Research Council's (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in Cambridge, UK. Dr. Hardingham was born on 6 July 1973 in Wimbledon, London. He studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University before moving down to the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) to work in Hilmar Bading's group. His thesis topic was concerned with the study of the molecular mechanisms whereby electrical activity in brain cells activates gene expression, a process thought to underlie the basis of long-term learning and memory.

Dr. Hardingham says he was drawn to molecular neuroscience by the shear amount of information that remained undiscovered and the attraction of applying biochemical techniques to deconstruct the internal workings of the mammalian neuron.

Dr. Hardingham is currently an MRC Fellow at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and a research Fellow of Clare College Cambridge where he continues to study the activation of gene expression in hippocampal neurons, paying particular attention to the role of nuclear calcium in this process.

He comes from a family of scientists--his father is Professor of Biochemistry at Manchester University, his mother a physiology graduate and former biology teacher, and his brother a Ph.D. student at Oxford University Physiology Department.

When he is out of the laboratory, his time is devoted to sport and spending time with his girlfriend, Cathy. He is an avid footballer [soccer player] and plays for a number of teams including the LMB team currently riding high in Division one of the Cambridge 5 aside league. Away from Cambridge, he is a keen fell- and mountain-marathon runner, and skier.

Figure 3North America: Lisa Goodrich, for her essay, "Patching Together Development and Disease," based on work performed in the Department of Developmental Biology at Stanford University. Dr. Goodrich was born 15 March 1969 in Washington, DC, but grew up mostly in the Boston area. Her introduction to research was in John Dowling's laboratory at Harvard University, where she was an undergraduate from 1987 to 1991. In the Dowling lab, she studied the development of the retina in haploid zebrafish and thus acquired a fascination with neural development. After graduation, she worked for 1 year on the development of ultraviolet photoreceptors in salmon with Yvette Kunz at University College Dublin in Ireland.

After returning to the United States, she began her doctoral work at Stanford University, where she joined Matthew Scott's laboratory and studied the role of vertebrate patched genes in neural development and disease.

Since July 1998, Dr. Goodrich has been a postdoctoral fellow with Marc Tessier-Lavigne at the University of California, San Francisco. She is currently working on a gene trap screen for novel axon guidance receptors in mice.

North America: Marilia Cascalho, for her essay, "Mismatch Repair and Somatic Hypermutation--A Tale of a Double-Edged Sword," based on her thesis research at the University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Cascalho was born in Lisbon, Portugal. During high school, she attended the Conservatory of Music in Lisbon. She contemplated becoming a professional musician until she started medical school. Her M.D. degree was awarded in 1986 by the Lisbon Medical School, University of Lisbon in Portugal. She became interested in immunology during her medical internship in Lisbon. Following an invitation by Åke Lernmark to study insulin-dependent diabetes, she worked at the Hagedorn Research Laboratory in Gentofte, Denmark, supported by a Juvenile Diabetes Foundation summer fellowship. Later, supported by another Juvenile Foundation fellowship, she contributed to the identification of the 64 K autoantigen as the GABA-synthesizing enzyme.

As the laboratory moved to the University of California at San Francisco, she met the two who became her mentors, Ira Herskowitz and Matthias Wabl. Inspired by Dr. Herskowitz's genetics course and Dr. Wabl's immunology lectures, she decided to study immunology at a more basic level.

Dr. Cascalho's first project in Dr. Wabl's laboratory was to make a mouse model with a limited antibody repertoire--the Quasi-Monoclonal mouse--to observe the diversification of the antibody repertoire and to identify mutated immunoglobulin molecules.

To explore the relationship between somatic hypermutation and DNA repair, she investigated the role of mismatch repair in hypermutation. It was concluded that in the hypermutating B cells' immunoglobulin loci, the mismatch repair system is subverted to contribute to mutations. Dr. Cascalho's thesis work uncovered the first tangible trans-element of the immunoglobulin mutator (a component of the mismatch repair system). She hopes to continue her research into the immunoglobulin mutator. Her long-range goal is to study the generation of B lymphocyte memory.

Since October 1999, Dr. Cascalho has been a staff researcher at the Transplantation Biology Division, Department of Surgery and Department of Immunology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Figure 4Japan: Toshimasa Yamauchi, for his essay, "Discovery of Novel Cross-Talk Between the Cytokine Receptor Superfamily and the Growth Factor Receptor Signal Transduction Pathway," reporting work done at the Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Yamauchi received his M.D. from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Medicine. After graduation, he became interested in signal transduction of hormones through tyrosine phosphorylation. He showed the existence of the novel cross-talk pathway between the cytokine receptor superfamily and growth factor receptor [T. Yamauchi et al., Nature390, 91 (1997)] while working under the direction of Takashi Kadowaki, Associate Professor, and Yoshio Yazaki, Professor, the Third Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Tokyo. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Medicine. Dr. Yamauchi holds a Research Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Young Scientists (until 2001) at the Department of Metabolic Diseases, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo. His current project is to study the molecular mechanisms by which nuclear receptors modulate the signal transduction of hormones through tyrosine phosphorylation. If possible, he would like to have his own laboratory and to develop a new useful medical treatment in the future.

Dr. Yamauchi was born in Kyoto and went to the Kinkaku elementary school near the Kinkaku temple. His father is engaged in the textile trade at Nishijin-ori. He attended La Salle High School. He enjoyed volleyball as a student at the University of Tokyo. His wife was his classmate; she also graduated from the University of Tokyo and has M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. She is a pathologist. Now he has three children, all boys, born in 1994, 1996, and 1999.

Dr. Yamauchi is deeply grateful to Associate Professor Takashi Kadowaki and Professor Yoshio Yazaki for their guidance, which made this research possible. They watched over him kindly, led him in appropriate directions, and took him seriously when he obtained unexpected findings, even though he was only a graduate student.

To read the essays written by previoius years' winners, see:

The Amersham Pharmacia Biotech & Science Prize
The Amersham Pharmacia Biotech and Science Prize for Young Scientists is awarded to outstanding graduate students in molecular biology who were awarded their Ph.D. in the preceding year. The essays describe their thesis work and place it in perspective with respect to current research in molecular biology. The essays are grouped according to the geographical location of the degree-granting institution: North America, Europe, Japan, and all other countries. After initial screening by Science editors, the top five essays from each region are forwarded to a panel of judges, composed of prominent international researchers in the field of molecular biology. This year's judges, chaired by Thomas R. Cech, University of Colorado, were Piet Borst, Netherlands Cancer Institute; Joseph Gall, Carnegie Institution, Baltimore; Tasuku Honjo, Kyoto University, Faculty of Medicine; and Y.-H. Tan, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, National University of Singapore. All regional winners compete for the grand prize of US$25,000. The regional winners who do not win the grand prize receive a cash prize of US$5000, and all receive a subscription to Science. The grand prize essay is published in Science, and the other winners' essays are published in Science Online. The awards are presented in Sweden in December of the year the award is made, and the winners' travel expenses are paid to attend the ceremony.

This international prize recognizes young students who are awarded their Ph.D.'s during the year 2000 or who are candidates for M.D. and Ph.D. degrees who have received one of their degrees. The prizes are awarded for the outstanding theses as described in a 1000-word essay. Entries for 2000 must be postmarked no later than 15 June 2000.