Whitehead Member Susan Lindquist honored with Harvard Centennial Medal

June 4, 2008

Tags: Lindquist LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Whitehead Member Susan Lindquist has been awarded a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Centennial Medal from Harvard University, given annually to graduate alumni who have made exceptional contributions to society.

The Centennial Medal was first presented in June 1989 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Harvard’s Graduate School and is awarded each June to distinguished alumni.

Lindquist received her PhD in biology from Harvard University in 1976. While a graduate student in Matthew Meselson’s lab at Harvard she began investigating heat shock proteins in fruit flies. This group of ”chaperone” proteins guides other proteins to fold correctly–a mechanism that affects many processes including a cell’s response to toxic stresses.

At Whitehead, Lindquist’s lab continues to decipher the mechanisms that occur during protein misfolding and the correlations to many neurological disorders including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Lindquist and colleagues have developed yeast strains that serve as living test tubes and reproduce many of the biological consequences of Parkinson’s disease. These discoveries will aid commercial screening for drugs to prevent and treat the disease.

Lindquist is a former Director of the Whitehead Institute, a Professor of Biology at MIT and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Prior to joining Whitehead, she was the Albert D. Lasker Professor of Medical Sciences in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997, the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the Institute of Medicine in 2006. Lindquist’s honors also include the Sigma XI William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement and a spot on Discover magazine’s 2002 list of top 50 women scientists. She was selected by Harvard University as a 2007-2008 Radcliffe Institute Fellow.

Lindquist was honored at a Harvard ceremony on June 4 along with three other GSAS alumni: Professor Ezra F. Vogel, Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, Emeritus, Harvard University; Earl Powell, director of the National Gallery of Art; and Frank Shu, University Professor for all ten campuses of the University of California System and a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of California at San Diego.

Written by Cristin Carr

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