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Bob Roeder wins “American Nobel”
Rockefeller biochemist honored with Lasker Award for research on DNA transcription
BY JOSEPH BONNER
The second most prestigious prize in science was presented to Rockefeller’s Robert G. Roeder last Friday for his more than three decades of research into the protein machines responsible for reading human genes. Roeder received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research at a luncheon ceremony at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.
Roeder is the 19th scientist associated with Rockefeller to be honored with the Lasker Award, a prize widely regarded as the “American Nobel.” Since the Lasker Awards were first presented in 1945, 47 percent of Basic Lasker Award winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize while 37 percent of all Nobel Prize winners have received Lasker Awards. Six of 22 Nobel Prize winners associated with Rockefeller have also won a Lasker.
“Virtually all of what we know about gene activation and its regulation in animal cells can be traced back to Bob Roeder’s seminal studies,” says Rockefeller University’s new president, Paul Nurse.
The Lasker is awarded each September to honor outstanding contributions to basic and clinical medical research. The other scientists receiving Lasker Awards at Friday’s ceremony were Marc Feldman and Ravinder N. Maini of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at Imperial College London; they share the Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research for their discovery of anti-TNF therapy as an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
In addition, actor Christopher Reeve was presented with the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service in Support of Medical Research and the Health Sciences.
Roeder, born in Boonville, Indiana in 1942, received his B.A. summa cum laude in chemistry from Wabash College, his M.S. in chemistry from the University of Illinois, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Washington, Seattle (his graduate studies were in the lab of William J. Rutter). He completed postdoctoral work at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, in Baltimore. He began his first faculty position at Washington University in St. Louis in 1971.
Roeder came to Rockefeller in 1982 as professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. In 1985, he was named the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Professor. He is also a member of the Pels Family Center for Biochemistry and Structural Biology at Rockefeller University.
“The Rockefeller University is a spectacular place, an institution with much tradition and a record of outstanding contributions to science and medicine,” says Roeder. “With its primary emphasis on research, Rockefeller is truly the easiest place to do science in an unimpeded fashion with high quality colleagues, graduate students and postdocs.”

September 25, 2003



 

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