Lindquist Receives 2003 Dickson Prize in Medicine

September 25, 2003

Tags: Lindquist LabAwards + Announcements

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Acclaimed molecular biologist Susan L. Lindquist, known in the scientific community for her groundbreaking studies in protein conformation, received the 2003 Dickson Prize in Medicine Sept. 24 during Science2003: Improving the Human Condition, a three-day showcase of research held at the University of Pittsburgh.

Lindquist’s work on protein conformation has contributed to the understanding of cellular responses to stress and the role of protein misfolding in genetics and disease. Through her work with protein misfolding, Lindquist has been credited with providing evidence for a new form of genetics where traits are transmitted entirely by self-perpetuating changes in protein folding, rather than inherited through changes in DNA or RNA. These protein-folding changes are thought to be the cause of a number of devastating neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Currently, Lindquist and her colleagues are investigating mechanisms for deliberate manipulation of protein folding, which could lead to new strategies for treating diseases caused by protein misfolding.

Lindquist is the director of Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Previously, she served as the Albert D. Lasker Professor of Medical Sciences in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago.

Lindquist was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996 and both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology in 1997. She received the Novartis-Drew Award in Biomedical Research in 2000 and served as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator from 1988 to 2001.

Lindquist delivered the Dickson Prize Lecture, “Protein Conformation as a Pathway to Understanding Cellular Processes, Disease and Bio-Inspired Materials,” Sept. 24 in Alumni Hall on Pitt’s Oakland campus.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Dickson Prize in Medicine is the most prestigious award presented by the School of Medicine. It recognizes individuals who have made significant, progressive contributions to the field of medicine. Established in 1969 by the estates of Joseph Z. Dickson, M.D., and his wife, Agnes Fischer Dickson, the prize consists of a bronze medal and an award of $50,000. It is analogous to the Dickson Prize in Science, which is awarded each year by Carnegie Mellon University.

Science2003: Improving the Human Condition, Pitt’s third annual fall celebration of science, focused on research under way in the community that not only is interesting and important but also significant for regional economic development. Featured were a symposium on “hot” research topics presented by scientists from both Pitt and Carnegie Mellon; presentations by scientists from local engineering and biotech firms; and an exhibition of scientific products and services. Other highlights included a career development workshop for “emerging scientists,” particularly graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and a technology showcase that offered investors and others an opportunity to discover new technologies that are available for licensing.

Release provided by University of Pittsburgh.

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