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Leaders in Molecular Biology Honored with Albany Medical Center Prize

ALBANY, N.Y., May 11, 2012—Two American scientists whose pioneering achievements in molecular biology have helped medical professionals improve health and combat disease today received the 12th annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research at an awards ceremony in Albany, N.Y.

The recipients share the $500,000 award, the largest in medicine and science in the United States. They are both from The Rockefeller University:  James E. Darnell Jr., M.D., who is considered the “father” of RNA processing and cytokine signaling, and Robert G. Roeder, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of gene transcription in animal cells.  Their work has led to greater understanding of how genes are regulated and expressed. 

James J. Barba, president and chief executive officer of Albany Medical Center and chairman of the National Selection Committee, said, “Understanding how our cells express their genetic information provides insight into all of human health. By helping to define how cells grow, replicate, and become specialized, these two scientists have allowed countless other scientists and physicians to explore new ways to fight disease including viruses, heart disease, anemia and autoimmune disorders. I commend Drs. Darnell and Roeder for their extraordinary lifetime contributions.”

According to Joseph Goldstein, M.D., chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and 2003 Albany Prize winner, “Darnell and Roeder have contributed perhaps as much as any two individuals to the understanding of mammalian gene expression in all of its phases which has progressed from virtually nothing in 1961 to a remarkably detailed understanding today of what is the most complex of all intracellular synthesis functions.”

The Albany Medical Center Prize was established in 2000 by the late Morris “Marty” Silverman, a businessman and philanthropist who grew up in Troy, N.Y. A $50 million gift commitment from the Marty and Dorothy Silverman Foundation provides for the prize to be awarded annually for 100 years.

The Albany Prize was created to recognize scientists and physicians whose work has and will revolutionize science and medicine.

In the 12 years that the Albany Prize has been awarded, a total of 24 prominent scientists and physicians who have helped to transform medicine and science have been honored. Their contributions include scientific breakthroughs leading to the diagnosis of genetic diseases through the mapping of the human genome, the development of anti-cholesterol statin drugs, and advances in cancer treatments, tissue engineering, cardiac stents, and artificial skin for burn patients. In addition, their contributions include work that holds promise for the development of vaccines to prevent diseases such as HIV. Awardees also have conducted landmark research to improve our understanding of basic yet vital human functions, including the immune system, RNA and DNA, and the brain in ways that will help improve health care across disciplines.

A total of five Nobel laureates are among those who have received the Albany Prize.  Three Albany Prize recipients (Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D., Bruce Beutler, M.D., and Ralph Steinman, M.D.) went on to later win the Nobel Prize, while two (Michael Brown, M.D., and Joseph Goldstein, M.D.) received the Albany Prize after receiving the Nobel, though receiving it for different accomplishments. 

For more information on the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, as well as detailed biographies and downloadable photos of this year’s recipients, go to: www.amc.edu/Academic/AlbanyPrize.

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*Questions & Comments:

Sue Ford
Extension: (518) 262 - 3421
  fords@mail.amc.edu



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