Ferré-D'amaré wins 2004 Eli Lilly and Company Research Award

04/30/04

WASHINGTON, DC--Adrian R. Ferré-D'Amaré, Ph.D., Associate Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Affiliate Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, has won the 2004 Eli Lilly and Company Research Award. Proudly supported by Eli Lilly and Company since 1936, the award is the oldest and most prestigious prize presented by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). It honors remarkable originality, accomplishment, and promise in a microbiologist or immunologist at the beginning of his or her career. At the ASM General Meeting, Ferré-D'Amaré will present the Eli Lilly Award Lecture, "Crystallographic Studies of Catalytic RNA Function."

In receiving the Eli Lilly Award, Ferré-D'Amaré is recognized for two vital breakthroughs that are changing the direction of research in structural biology and transforming microbiologists' understanding of how very large molecules function in living organisms.

First, he developed new methods to make obtaining crystals of RNA much easier. RNA crystallization is a very difficult but key procedure used to determine the structure of this genetic material. Ferré-D'Amaré developed new techniques to make these crystals form much more readily than by earlier methods. He then used the technique of X-ray crystallography to study the three-dimensional structures of RNA and RNA-protein complexes, focusing on RNA taken from a plant virus, as well as RNA from the hepatitis delta virus, which is pathogenic to humans.

Ferré-D'Amaré's second groundbreaking achievement was to obtain highly detailed information about the biochemical and biological functions of ribozymes, which are RNAs that can catalyze a variety of chemical reactions, to see how these molecules interact with their cellular environments.

He earned a B.S. in chemistry at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), Monterrey, Mexico, and a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics from Rockefeller University, New York, New York. He has already received wide recognition for the high caliber of his work; he was recently named a W. M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar in Medical Research for 2003–2008 and is a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar for 2001–2004.

The Eli Lilly and Company Research Award will be presented at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), May 23–27, 2004, in New Orleans, Louisiana. ASM is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists, teachers, physicians, and health professionals. Its mission is to promote research and training in the microbiological sciences and to assist communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public to improve health, economic well-being, and the environment.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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