ASBMB-Amgen Award Lecture to focus on orphan nuclear receptors

01/18/05

Barry Forman, Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope National Medical Center and the Gonda Diabetes Center, has been selected to receive the 2005 ASBMB-AMGEN Award. Dr. Forman's award lecture, which will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 3 at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Annual Meeting in San Diego, will focus on orphan nuclear receptors and their ligands.

Orphan nuclear receptors are structurally related to the well-known steroid and thyroid hormone receptors that act to mediate the actions of steroid, thyroid, and retinoid hormones. These endocrine pathways represent a cornerstone of biomedical research and have led to treatments for breast cancer, inflammatory disorders and other pathological states.

In contrast, orphan receptors are a subfamily of receptors whose ligands are unknown. The existence of such receptors raises the exciting possibility that numerous signaling pathways remain to be discovered.

However, before this potential can be fully realized, a complete understanding of the endogenous ligands that regulate these signaling networks must be developed. Dr. Forman's presentation will summarize previous successes in ligand discovery. He will also discuss new technology to aid in the discovery of endogenous ligands and how these signaling molecules contribute to critical diseases.

The ASBMB-AMGEN Award is made annually to a new investigator (an individual with no more than 15 years experience since receipt of a doctorate) for significant achievements in the application of biochemistry and molecular biology to the understanding of disease.

The Award consists of a silver and crystal commemorative sculpture, a stipend, an unrestricted research grant, and transportation, and expenses to present a lecture at the 2005 ASBMB Annual Meeting, April 2-6, 2005 in San Diego. Recent recipients of this award were Steven C. Almo in 2004, Wesley Sundquist in 2003, Joseph Heitman in 2002, and Thomas Ried in 2001.

Currently, in his laboratory, Dr. Forman is using orphan nuclear receptors to elucidate novel hormonal signaling pathways that participate in normal physiological processes and in disease states. The work has led to the discovery of previously unanticipated regulatory molecules including bile acids, sterols, androstans, eicosanoids and xenobiotics. Most notably, the Forman lab has identified exciting new compounds that regulate fat cell formation, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol homeostasis.

In expressing his support for Dr. Forman's nomination for to receive the award, Ronald Evans, HHMI Investigator and Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, wrote, "Barry is a spectacular scientist and colleague who, as a young and independent investigator, has made important discoveries to the molecular biology of nuclear receptors, metabolic regulation and disease."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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