Whitehead Member Iain Cheeseman to receive R.R. Bensley Award

December 6, 2010

Tags: Cheeseman LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.  – Whitehead Institute Member Iain Cheeseman will receive the 2011 R.R. Bensley Award, one of four Young Investigator Awards distributed by the American Association of Anatomists (AAA).

Each year, the Bensley award honors a cell biologist who has completed his or her highest degree in the past ten years, advanced the field of anatomy, and published papers that substantially impacted his or her field.

The AAA award recognizes Cheeseman as “…actively involved in pioneering the rapidly developing interface between [the study of proteins] and cell biology, which is likely to revolutionize the field.”

Since his postdoctoral research in Arshad Desai’s lab at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the University of California/San Diego, Cheeseman has been clarifying how a protein bundle known as the kinetochore interacts with chromosomes and thin microtubule protein strands during cell division.

In cell division, a cell must ensure that each “daughter cell” produced has a complete set of genes. Duplicate copies of these genes are tightly compacted into chromosomes.  Integrated into the chromosome is the kinetochore, which acts like a hook for the microtubules to latch onto. During cell division, these microtubules shorten, pulling the chromosomes in half and tugging their genetic loads to opposite ends of the cell.

Desai, who nominated Cheeseman for the award, calls him an international leader in the chromosome segregation field. “[Iain is] the most outstanding young scientist I have encountered in terms of productivity, intensity, self-motivation, organizational ability, intellectual acumen, and desire to succeed.”

In addition to delivering the lecture “Anatomy of a Kinetochore: Building a Microtubule Attachment Site” at the 2011 Annual AAA meeting on April 10, 2011, Cheeseman will also receive a $1,000 honorarium.

Based in Bethesda, MD, the American Association of Anatomists was founded in 1888 for the "advancement of anatomical science."  Today, AAA is the professional home for biomedical researchers and educators focusing on anatomical form and function.

Written by Nicole Giese Rura

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Iain Cheeseman’s primary affiliation is with Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where his laboratory is located and all his research is conducted. He is also an assistant professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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