No 13/November 21, 2002

E m b a r g o e d until: Thursday, November 21, 2002, 5 pm (GMT)

Prof. Roger Tsien Honoured with Max Delbrueck Medal

He developed indispensable tools to study basic mechanisms in living cells

„For his outstanding contributions to molecular biology“ including the development of „a spectrum of novel optical methods which allow to elucidate basic mechanisms of life in intact cell“ the American biochemist and pharmacologist, Professor Roger Y. Tsien from Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of California San Diego (USA), has been awarded the prestigious Max Delbrück Medal in Berlin (Germany) today. „By a combination of synthetic organic chemistry, physical chemistry and molecular biology he advanced our understanding of the function of calcium ions and protein/protein interaction in celluar signalling cascades. Professor Tsien supplied indispensable tools for the investigation of cellular processes in life and disease“, according to the award citation. After the ceremony Dr. Tsien delivered his Berlin Lecture on Molecular Medicine. His topic was „Imaging Signal Transduction and Protein Sociology“.

Dr. Tsien's research has been at the interfaces between organic chemistry, cell biology, and neurobiology, starting long before such interdisciplinary efforts became fashionable. He is best known for designing and building molecules that either report or perturb signal transduction inside living cells. His current research goals are to understand how the spatial and temporal dynamics of signal transduction orchestrate complex cellular responses such as gene expression and synaptic plasticity. These goals will require improved molecular techniques to see and manipulate small-molecule messengers, protein phosphorylation, and protein-protein interaction in live cells and organisms.

 

Roger Y. Tsien was born in New York City in 1952. He received his A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard College in 1972. A Marshall Scholarship took him to the Physiological Laboratory at the University of Cambridge (UK), where he received his Ph.D. in 1977 and remained as a Research Fellow until 1981. He became a full Professor in the Department of Physiology-Anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1989 he moved to the University of California, San Diego, where he is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

 

His honors include the W. Alden Spencer Award in Neurobiology from Columbia University (1991), the Artois-Baillet-Latour Health Prize, Belgium, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, Canada, and the American Heart Association Basic Research Prize (all in 1995), and the Pearse Prize of the Royal Microscopical Society (2000). In 2002 he received the Award for Creative Invention from the American Chemical Society, the Christian B. Anfinsen Award from the Protein Society, and the Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Tsien was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998.

 

Roger Y. Tsien was born in New York City in 1952. He received his A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard College in 1972. A Marshall Scholarship took him to the Physiological Laboratory at the University of Cambridge (UK), where he received his Ph.D. in 1977 and remained as a Research Fellow until 1981. He became a full Professor in the Department of Physiology-Anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1989 he moved to the University of California, San Diego, where he is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and of Chemistry & Biochemistry. His honors include the W. Alden Spencer Award in Neurobiology from Columbia University (1991), the Artois-Baillet-Latour Health Prize, Belgium, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, Canada, and the American Heart Association Basic Research Prize (all in 1995), and the Pearse Prize of the Royal Microscopical Society (2000). In 2002 he received the Award for Creative Invention from the American Chemical Society, the Christian B. Anfinsen Award from the Protein Society, and the Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Tsien was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998.

 

The Max Delbrück Medal is given to an outstanding scientist every year, since 1992. It is awarded at the „Berlin Lectures on Molecular Medicine“, organized by the Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch (a national research laboratory of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres), and the three Universities in Berlin and the biomedical research institutions, and the Schering Forschungsgesellschaft (Research Foundation).

 

The first Berlin-Lecturer was Professor Günter Blobel from the Rockefeller University, New York and Nobel laureate for medicine in 1999. His successor was the geneticist and this year`s Nobel laureate for medicine, Professor Sydney Brenner from the University of Cambridge (UK). Next came the neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux from the Pasteur-Institut in Paris (France), the cancer researcher Professor Robert A. Weinberg from the Whitehead Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge/USA, the prion researcher Professor Charles Weissmann from the University of Zürich (Switzerland), Professor Svante Pääbo (Ludwig Maximilians University Munich and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, both in Germany), the American Nobel laureate for chemistry from 1980, Paul Berg (Stanford University/California) and the American biochemist Professor Joan Argetsinger Steitz from Yale University, New Haven/Connecticut (USA). In 2001 Professor Eric Lander from the Whitehead Institute received the Max Delbrück Medal.

 

Barbara Bachtler

Press and Public Affairs

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