AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY HONORS UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL PROFESSOR

Phillip Zamore, PhD, to receive the Schering-Plough Research Institute Award

July 22, 2008

WORCESTER, Mass.—Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Gretchen Stone Cook Chair of Biomedical Sciences and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, is among eight scientists to be honored by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) for their outstanding achievements and contributions to science.

The ASBMB will honor Dr. Zamore with the Schering-Plough Research Institute Award during its annual Experimental Biology 2009 Meeting. The Schering-Plough Award was established to recognize young investigators for outstanding research at an early stage of their careers. A pioneer in the study of RNA silencing in eukaryotes, Zamore’s laboratory has played a role in nearly all of the major breakthroughs in the study of RNA silencing.

“I am honored to have our laboratory’s work recognized by the ASBMB. The Schering-Plough Award highlights the hard work and creative efforts of the students and post-docs who have participated in our efforts to understand the mechanism and biology of RNA silencing,” said Zamore.

An international leader in the science of RNA interference (RNAi), the ability of double-stranded RNA to "silence" targeted genes, Zamore’s experiments have shed light on how RNAi works at the molecular level, specifically identifying that it was the small double-stranded RNA, the result of an enzymatic chopper called dicer, which precisely guided the silencing reaction of the process. He now focuses his investigations on the biochemical analysis of in vitro extracts to study the machinery of RNAi, in hopes of applying this phenomenon to human disease. 

“Dr. Zamore has been a pioneer in both our fundamental understanding of RNAi and in the development of new therapies based on RNAi. We are extraordinarily proud to have him here at UMass Medical School, and I can think of no one more deserving of this prestigious award,” said Terence R. Flotte, MD, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean at UMMS.

A member of the UMMS community since 1999, Zamore received his AB and his PhD from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University and was awarded a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellowship to complete his post-doctoral study at the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Earlier this year, he was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, one of the most prestigious and sought-after scientific designations in the world. He was named a 2000 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts and, in 2002, was a grant recipient under the W. M. Keck Foundation’s Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research Program. He is the author of numerous high-impact papers in molecular biology and genetics.

Other ASBMB award recipients include: David Davies of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; John Kuriyan, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Berkeley; Sarah Spiegel of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine; Douglas Rees, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology; Sandra Schmid, an investigator at the Scripps Research Institute; Rochelle Schwartz-Bloom of Duke University Medical Center; and Susan Lindquist, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The ASBMB will officially present the awards at the Experimental Biology 2009 Meeting in New Orleans from April 18 through 22. Zamore will receive $5,000 and a plaque from the ASBMB, and he will deliver a lecture during the annual meeting.

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The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $176 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.

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