Vol 7. Issue 25 / September 10, 2007


Bruce Beutler Wins Balzan Prize
Bruce Beutler, chair of the Genetics Department at The Scripps Research Institute, has been awarded the prestigious 2007 Balzan Prize for his work in innate immunity. He shares the prize with Jules Hoffmann of the Academie des Sciences in Paris.

In announcing the award, the International Balzan Prize Foundation of Italy and Switzerland cited Beutler and Hoffmann "for their discovery of the genetic mechanisms responsible for innate immunity. They have worked in close cooperation to develop a new vision of the molecular defense strategy deployed by animals across a wide evolutionary spectrum against infectious agents. Their work has led to very promising medical applications."

Beutler, who holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, and an M.D. from the University of Chicago, has spearheaded the use of a technique called "forward genetics" to study genes used by the mammalian innate immune system to clear pathogens from the body. Beutler is credited with the identification of the key receptors that inform the body when an infection is present. The same receptors also initiate inflammation and shock when an infection becomes widespread. Together with his colleagues at Scripps Research, including Kasper Hoebe (an assistant professor in the Department of Genetics), Beutler has continued to analyze these receptors, and has pursued an ambitious search for all proteins that protect mammals against defined infections.

The International Balzan Prize Foundation, established in 1957, promotes culture, science, and the most meritorious initiatives in the cause of humanity, peace, and brotherhood among peoples. It achieves its aim through the annual award of four prizes in two general fields. The first encompasses literature, the moral sciences, and the arts, while the second encompasses medicine and the physical, mathematical, and natural sciences. Each prize has a monetary value of 1 million Swiss francs (currently equivalent to approximately $830,000). Just over 100 people have received the Balzan Prize since it was first presented, including such diverse and influential figures as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John XIII, composer Paul Hindemith, cognitive development pioneer Jean Piaget, astrophysicists Fred Hoyle and Martin Schwarzschild, climatologist Roger Revelle, and biologist Karl von Frisch.

For more information and a complete list of prizewinners, see the foundation's web site at http://www.balzan.org/default.aspx?lang=en.

Ang Li Awarded Bristol-Myers Squibb Fellowship
Ang Li, a Ph.D. candidate in the Kellogg School of Science and Technology at The Scripps Research Institute who is working in the Nicolaou lab, has won a 2007-2008 Bristol-Myers Squibb Graduate Fellowship in Organic Synthesis. According to Bristol-Myers Squibb, fellows are chosen based on "demonstrated academic and research achievements and their potential for significant future accomplishments." As a fellow, Li is invited to present at the 10th Annual Unrestricted Grants Symposium hosted by the company in the spring. Li's research has focused on synthetic studies towards lomaiviticins and total synthesis of platensimycin.

Andrea Nold Selected for ACS Fellowship
Andrea Nold, a Kellogg School Ph.D. candidate in the Nicolaou lab, has been selected to receive an American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Organic Chemistry Graduate Fellowship sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. She will present a poster on her research at the National Organic Symposium in June 2009.


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