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
"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
"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
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.
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