Vol. 14 No. 4 - November, 2009

Ambros wins Horwitz Prize

Robert Carlin Photography
Victor Ambros, PhD

Columbia University honored Victor Ambros, PhD, the Silverman Chair in Natural Sciences and professor of molecular medicine, and his colleague Gary Ruvkun, PhD, of Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, with the 2009 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize. The award, established to recognize outstanding contributions to basic research in the fields of biology and biochemistry, acknowledges Dr. Ambros’s and Dr. Ruvkun’s work in discovering microRNAs, which are critical in gene regulation. Ambros is widely regarded as a central figure in RNA biology for his work in identifying the function of microRNAs, the very short (approximately 22 nucleotide-long) single-stranded RNA molecules that are now understood to play a critical role in gene regulation.

“It is our privilege to award the 2009 Horwitz Prize to Drs. Ambros and Ruvkun, as recognition for their pioneering work in gene regulation,” said Lee Goldman, MD, executive vice president of Columbia University and dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, in an issued statement. “Their body of work illustrates the importance of collaboration in science – often a vital intellectual process that is not always visible.”

The chair of the Horwitz Prize Committee, Wayne A. Hendrickson, PhD, noted in a statement, “The selection of Victor Ambros and Gary Ruvkun for this year’s Horwitz Prize recognizes their scientific contribution on new understandings of our genetic code, our DNA, and how small portions of it may be involved in the formation of cancer and other chronic illnesses, including diabetes.”

Ambros and Ruvkun gave lectures about their discovery in November at Columbia University; the lectures were followed by an awards ceremony.