Two TSRI Faculty Win Prestigious Cell Biology Awards
Two young faculty members at The Scripps Research Institute
(TSRI)Assistant Professor Clare Waterman-Storer and
Associate Professor Benjamin Cravattare being honored
with early career recognition awards sponsored by the American
Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), one of the largest professional
member organizations in the field.
Waterman-Storer won the 2002 Women in Cell Biology (WICB)
Career Recognition Award.
"It is really a great honor to get this award," she says,
"and I am fully indebted to the excellent mentors I have had
in my training and here at Scripps.
"Several of my scientific 'heroes' have received the WICB
award and gone on to be excellent leaders and do such great
basic cell biology," says Waterman-Storer. "It is exciting
to think that I could be following in those footsteps."
Waterman-Storer was nominated by Professor Sandra Schmid,
who is chair of the Department of Cell Biology and the 1990
recipient of the WICB Career Recognition Award.
"I am extremely impressed with [Clare's accomplishments
at Scripps]" says Schmid. "[They] demonstrate Clare's ability
to carry her research from precise and insightful quantitative
observation of cellular phenomena to identification of the
molecular bases for these phenomena."
Waterman-Storer won the 2002 WICB Career Recognition Award
for her work studying the molecules that are involved with
cell motilitysuch as microtubules, actin, and all the
proteins responsible for regulating them. In particular, she
is interested in the structural and regulatory interactions
between actin and microtubuleshow they touch and move
each other, how they interact during the control of motility,
and how those interactions impact such diverse areas as cancer,
wound healing, and early embryonic development.
Cravatt won the fourth annual ASCB-Promega Award for Early
Career Life Scientists for "his research with fatty acid amides
in cellular and organismal biology."
In particular, Cravatt has spent several years characterizing
fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), a membrane-bound enzyme
that metabolizes small molecules, including endocannabinoidsendogenous
molecules that provide some natural relief when you feel pain.
FAAH is a target for pain therapy not only because it breaks
down the molecules that provide the pain relief but also because
it turns out that FAAH seems to be the only enzyme responsible
for doing so. In FAAH, Cravatt has been looking to exploit
the molecular signaling pathways that the body uses when it
senses pain in order to come up with selective targets that
can be used to treat clinical problems.
"Ben has demonstrated the remarkable ability to apply multiple
techniques to probe mechanism through structure, chemistry,
and physiology with already outstanding success," says Schmid.
Cravatt trained in both chemistry and biology at TSRI, graduating
from the Macromolecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry
Program in 1996, and he is a member of the Department of Cell
Biology, the Department of Chemistry, and The Skaggs Institute
for Chemical Biology.
"Everything our laboratory does involves a lot of chemistry,"
says Cravatt. "It's nice that the outcomes of our experiments
are appreciated by biologists."
Both awards will be presented at the ACBS annual meeting
in San Francisco on December 17, 2002.