Recent Highlights from our
Exceptional Women Scientists
Titia de Lange Received NCI Outstanding Investigator Award
Titia de Lange received an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). These awards recognize a small number of highly innovative and impactful cancer researchers and provide them with generous funding for seven years to support a greater understanding of cancer and the development of applications that may lead to breakthroughs in biomedical, behavioral, or clinical cancer research.
Svetlana Mojsov Received the Vin Future Prize
Svetlana Mojsov received the Vin Future Prize for Innovation with Outstanding Achievements in Emerging Fields. Her discovery of GLP-1 and its role as a glucose-dependent inducer of insulin secretion led to the development of new medicines for type 2 diabetes mellitus, and more recently as potent weight-loss drugs that prevent heart attacks. Moreover, Svetlana was also named by Nature magazine one of the year’s “Top 10 people who made a difference in science this year,” reporting how her pioneering research directly laid the groundwork for new blockbuster obesity drugs after her contributions to these discoveries had been dismissed for many years.
Amy Shyer Received NIH Director’s New Innovator Award
Amy Shyer received an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. This award supports exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose highly innovative research with the potential to produce a major impact on areas of interest to the NIH. Amy examines the mechanical forces and molecular cues that direct tissue formation in early development.
Priya Rajasethupathy Received the Maximizing Innovation in Neuroscience Discovery Prize
Priya Rajasethupathy received the inaugural Maximizing Innovation in Neuroscience Discovery Prize—or the MIND Prize—a new prize presented by the Pershing Square Foundation to recognize and support “next-frontier thinkers” who can uncover a deeper understanding of the brain and cognition, and to yield breakthroughs in neurodegenerative and neurocognitive disorder research.
Agata Smogorzewska Received a Philip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Award
Agata Smogorzewska, in collaboration with Ben Greenbaum at MSKCC, received a Philip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Award for defining the potential of immunotherapy in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck that arise from genome instability in Fanconi Anemia.
Cori Bargmann Becomes the Vice President of Academic Affairs
Cori Bargmann, the Torsten N. Wiesel Professor, became the Vice President for Academic Affairs on September 1, 2023.
Leslie Vosshall Named 22nd Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize Recipient
Leslie B. Vosshall, Rockefeller’s Robin Chemers Neustein Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, and also Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has been named recipient of the 22nd Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, a highly prestigious honor in neuroscience. Dr. Vosshall is being recognized for her pioneering research on the molecular genetics and neuroscience of mosquitos, the vector that transmits many human diseases including malaria, dengue fever, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Dr. Vosshall will receive the prize in March 2024 and give a lecture on her work at the UNC School of Medicine.
Elizabeth Campbell Awarded the Emil von Behring Prize from Marburg University
Elizabeth Campbell, research associate professor in the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics, which she co-directs with Seth Darst, has been honored with the Emil von Behring Prize from Marburg University for her work determining the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 polymerase, work that is driving structure-based design of improved inhibitors of this and related polymerases. The Emil von Behring Prize recognizes outstanding scientific achievements in the field of immunology, microbiology, or virology.
Li Zhao Promoted to Associate Professor
Li Zhao has been promoted to Associate Professor and head of the Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics. She is an evolutionary biologist who combines superb training in computational biology and bench research to study the origins of de novo genes—DNA sequences that are transcribed and produce protein products that have apparently evolved from previously functionless DNA sequence.
Agata Smogorzewska Promoted to Full Professor
Agata Smogorzewska has been promoted to Professor with tenure and Head of the Laboratory of Genome Maintenance. She has developed a strong research program focused on understanding the mechanisms of repair of DNA damage and the consequences of its failure. To gain insight into this process, she has studied Fanconi Anemia (FA), an inherited disease in which crosslinks between the two DNA strands aren’t normally repaired, preventing DNA replication across these sites. Patients with FA develop bone marrow failure, are predisposed to a variety of cancers, and have variable congenital anomalies.
Lilian Cohn and Josefina del Mármol Were Selected into the Pew Scholars Program
Lillian Cohn, a former Women & Science Fellow in the Nussenzweig lab, and Josefina del Mármol, a former Women & Science postdoctoral fellow in the Ruta Lab, join the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Twenty-two early-career scientists were selected to receive four years of funding to spearhead innovative studies exploring human health and medicine. Dr. Cohn, now an Assistant Professor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, will investigate the mechanisms that allow HIV to persist indefinitely inside people living with HIV. Dr. del Mármol, now an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, will elucidate how mosquitoes distinguish and target humans from other animals based on their sense of smell.
Mary E. Hatten Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science
In 2023, Mary E. Hatten, the Frederick P. Rose Professor, and head of the Laboratory of Developmental Neurobiology, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, honoring her pioneering research investigating how the brain develops. Dr. Hatten joins a cohort of 21 current Rockefeller colleagues that have been inducted into this storied institution. Established in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences honors excellence and leadership across disciplines.
Priya Rajasethupathy Promoted to Associate Professor
Priya Rajasethupathy, the Jonathan M. Nelson Family Assistant Professor, has been promoted to associate professor and continuing Head of Laboratory. She has made highly innovative and novel contributions to the understanding of how memories are formed, used, stored, and retrieved. Dr. Rajasethupathy has been recognized with an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award in 2017, designation as a Searle Scholar in 2018, a Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship in 2018, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2019.
Elaine Fuchs awarded Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science
Biologist Elaine Fuchs has been awarded a 2023 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, one of the oldest and most venerable honors in the United States. First presented by The Franklin Institute in 1824, the Benjamin Franklin Medals annually recognize nine individuals for outstanding achievements in science, engineering, and business leadership.
Lamia Wahba Joins Rockefeller Faculty
Biologist Lamia Wahba joined Rockefeller in January as a tenure-track assistant professor heading the new Laboratory of Non-canonical Modes of Inheritance. Dr. Wahba has discovered that small molecules called piRNAs can be passed from one generation to the next, revealing a previously unsuspected way in which biological traits can be inherited without DNA. Her work on non-genetic inheritance will lead to better understanding of disease states while revealing new targets for therapeutic discovery. Dr. Wahba earned her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University and conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University.
Begüm Aydin Awarded HHMI Hanna Gray Fellowship
Postdoctoral fellow Begüm Aydin was among a cohort of 25 exceptional early-career researchers from across the country named HHMI 2022 Hanna Gray Fellows. This esteemed fellowship provides up to eight years of financial support and is designed to increase diversity in science by recruiting and retaining early career scientists from underrepresented groups in the life sciences.
Josefina del Mármol Named Blavatnik Regional Award Winner
Josefina del Mármol, a former Women & Science postdoctoral fellow in the Ruta Lab, was named the 2022 Blavatnik Regional Award Winner in the life sciences category. During her time at Rockefeller, Dr. del Mármol helped solve the structure of an odor receptor by utilizing cryo-electron microscopy. This research has led to the first-ever molecular views of an olfactory receptor at work. She is now an assistant professor running her own lab at Harvard Medical School.
Viviana Risca Received NIH Director’s New Innovator Award
Viviana Risca received a prestigious NIH Director’s New Innovator Award for her unique biophysical approach to understanding how different chromatin states regulate transcription. The New Innovator Awards support exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects. Dr. Risca is the eleventh Rockefeller scientist in the past fifteen years to receive this coveted award. Previous recipients include Priya Rajasethupathy in 2017 and Vanessa Ruta in 2013.
Vanessa Ruta Promoted to Full Professor
In June 2022, Rockefeller alumna (‘05) and head of lab Vanessa Ruta was promoted to full professor with tenure. Dr. Ruta, now the Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Professor, investigates the molecular and neural mechanisms of adaptive behavior. Dr. Ruta has been recognized with several prestigious honors, including a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship, colloquially known as a “genius grant,” and an HHMI investigator appointment in 2021. At Rockefeller, she also serves as co-director of the newly established Price Family Center for the Social Brain.
Ekaterina Vinogradova Received Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award
Ekaterina Vinogradova was one of six recipients of the 2022 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award. Dr. Vinogradova’s research on how the lung tumor microenvironment suppresses immune responses has the potential to guide new therapeutic strategies for cancer patients. The Innovation Award supports “high-risk, high-reward” ideas with the potential to significantly impact the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of cancer. Since joining Rockefeller in 2021, Dr. Vinogradova has received a Searle Scholar Award, and Chemical & Engineering News named her one of its “Talented 12” for 2021.
Li Zhao and Mandë Holford Named Allen Distinguished Investigators
Assistant professor Li Zhao and alumna Mandë Holford (‘03), now an associate professor at CUNY Hunter College, were named Allen Distinguished Investigators for their project on the origin, evolution, and dynamics of micropeptides in the immune system. The Allen Distinguished Investigator program supports cutting-edge, early-stage research that promises to advance the fields of biology and medicine.