Stephen P Goff awarded inaugural Retrovirology Prize

07/07/05

Stephen P. Goff has been awarded the inaugural Retrovirology Prize; it was announced today. Dr Goff, the Higgins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, USA, will receive a crystal trophy and a $3,000 cash award in recognition of his excellence in basic retrovirus research. Editor-in-Chief Kuan-Teh Jeang writes about the award in an editorial published this week in the Open Access journal Retrovirology. The editorial includes an interview with Goff, about his career, inspirations and achievements.

The Retrovirology prize, which will be granted annually, recognises a mid-career retrovirologist aged 45 to 60. The inaugural prize, named the M. Jeang Retrovirology prize, is supported through a donation from the Ming K. Jeang Foundation, an educational foundation based in Houston, Texas.

Stephen Goff, 53, is a prolific and highly accomplished scientist. He has published over 250 scientific articles. He was one of the first investigators to clone a functional copy of a retroviral genome, and to use recombinant DNA methods to study viral replication. Over the last two decades Dr. Goff has developed and exploited the Moloney murine leukemia virus as a genetic system. One of his most important results was the definition of the functional domains of the viral pol gene, and the seminal discovery of a viral function, now termed integrase, used to insert viral DNA into the host genome. Goff was also the first to clone the v-abl oncogene and c-abl protooncogene; two important findings which contributed to the development of the antitumor drug Gleevec.

Goff was a PhD student at Stanford in Nobel laureate Paul Berg's lab. He did his post-doc with David Baltimore, another Nobel prize winner. He is active in many professional organizations and serves on numerous editorial boards including the Open Access journal BMC Microbiology.

In choosing the prize winner, the Retrovirology Editors "considered more than just scientific excellence, and sought to identify the rare individual who is both an outstanding researcher and a selfless mentor". Indeed, Goff speaks on mentoring as an important aspect of science, "I hope that I will be remembered as someone who trained a large number of active and productive scientists -- at last count I have graduated 25 students and trained about the same number of fellows. I try to give my students considerable freedom to explore new avenues, to fail and succeed, and so to learn by experience what is worthwhile and what is too risky. I try to encourage optimism, self-motivation, and give some sense of the excitement we all have in what we do."

The Retrovirology prize was launched in an editorial published in April calling for nominations, submitted via the Editorial Board of the journal to a selection committee composed of the editors of Retrovirology: Kuan-Teh Jeang, Monsef Benkirane, Ben Berkhout, Masahiro Fujii, Michael Lairmore, Andrew Lever, and Mark Wainberg.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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