Vol 5. Issue 21 / July 4, 2005


Joyce Wins Urey Medal
Professor Gerald Joyce of The Scripps Research Institute was honored recently with the H.C. Urey Medal, which is the highest recognition by the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL). Joyce, who is a member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research, is the third recipient of this prestigious prize, given every six years to a single scientist who is considered to have the best sustained scientific research program in the origins-of-life field.

The Urey Medal is named after Harold C. Urey, who won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1934 for his discovery of heavy hydrogen, also known as deuterium, which is an isotope of nature’s lightest element that has two protons (normal hydrogen has one proton). Deuterium and deuterium-based “heavy” water have numerous applications in biology, chemistry, and physics.

In the last two decades, Joyce has made a number of contributions to the study of the origins of life, particularly on evolving RNA and the "RNA world." Research by Joyce and others has suggested the existence of an ancient RNA world—one in which RNA genes stored genetic information (something done by DNA today), carried out the chemistry necessary for life, and formed the essential physical structures of life (something done primarily by proteins today).

The Urey Medal was awarded to Joyce at the closing banquet of last week's 14th International Congress on the Origins of Life, held in Beijing, China, by Scripps Research Professor Albert Eschenmoser—who was awarded the equally prestigious Oparin Medal at the preceding ISSOL conference, held in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2002.Significantly, this was the first time that the ISSOL had awarded its top recognition to an investigator from the same institution as a previous winner. "We did it back-to-back," says Joyce, who also delivered a plenary lecture at the conference titled "Evolution in an RNA World."

Tan Honored by European League Against Rheumatism
Professor Eng Tan of the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute was recognized for his work on autoantibodies and autoimmunity at the annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) in Vienna, Austria. The EULAR Meritorious Service Award, which is given for outstanding contributions to the field, was presented to him at the meeting's opening ceremony on June 8. Tan is the first non-European rheumatologist to receive this award.

"Hot Paper" from the Schultz Lab
A paper from the laboratory of Professor Peter Schultz was ranked 10th in the "Top 25 Hottest Articles in Chemistry" by ScienceDirect this quarter. The paper, "A Genome-Wide Overexpression Screen in Yeast for Small-Molecule Target Identification," by Hendrik Luesch, Tom Y.H. Wu, Pingda Ren, Nathanael S. Gray, Peter G. Schultz, and Frantisek Supek, appeared in Chemistry & Biology, Volume 12, Issue 1, pages 55-63. For the ScienceDirect rankings, see: http://top25.sciencedirect.com/index.php?subject_area_id=6



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