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Women & Science News

Three Rockefeller researchers are named HHMI investigators

Rockefeller News, September 23, 2021

Three Rockefeller faculty members have been named investigators of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, including Vanessa Ruta, head of the Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Behavior. These researchers are among just 33 biomedical scientists nationwide chosen to become HHMI investigators this year.

Leslie B. Vosshall Named VP and CSO of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Rockefeller News, September 17, 2021

Leslie B. Vosshall, a Rockefeller faculty member known for her research on how the tiny but deadly mosquito perceives and processes sensory information, has been appointed vice president and chief scientific officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

We have now seen our sense of smell in action

Popular Science, August 4, 2021

The nose is, at its most basic level, a tool for filtering through the chemicals of the outside world, sorting, weighing, and categorizing the trillions of molecules of all shapes and sizes that waft over us. In a study out this week, scientists opened a window into a basic step in the sensation. Reporting Wednesday in Nature, researchers documented the first images of an odor receptor at work—providing clues on how animals have evolved to sort through that endless variety.

Study reveals how smell receptors work

Rockefeller News, August 4, 2021

“The olfactory system has to recognize a vast number of molecules with only a few hundred odor receptors or even less,” says Rockefeller neuroscientist Vanessa Ruta. “It’s clear that it had to evolve a different kind of logic than other sensory systems.” In a new study, Ruta and her colleagues offer answers to the decades-old question of odor recognition by providing the first-ever molecular views of an olfactory receptor at work.

How cells draw on memories of past inflammation to respond to new threats

Rockefeller News, July 27, 2021

When a tissue experiences inflammation, its cells remember. Pinning proteins to its genetic material at the height of inflammation, the cells bookmark where they left off in their last tussle. Next exposure, inflammatory memory kicks in. A new study in Cell Stem Cell describes the mechanism behind inflammatory memory, also commonly referred to as trained immunity, and suggests that the phenomenon may be universal across diverse cell types.

New Pearl Meister Greengard Prize exhibit celebrates the accomplishments of women scientists

Rockefeller News, July 22, 2021

A new exhibit recognizing the winners of Rockefeller’s Pearl Meister Greengard Prize was unveiled last month in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Lounge. Composed of translucent, color-shifting hexagons, each with an etched portrait and citation, the exhibit spotlights the 22 outstanding women scientists honored to date with the prestigious prize. Each year, newly named awardees will be added to the tessellating mosaic exhibit designed by C&G Partners.

Identifying the spark of desire in fruit flies

Rockefeller News, July 12, 2021

In a new study, Rockefeller’s Vanessa Ruta and colleagues investigate how a fruit fly’s brain in the state of arousal converts a female from an indifferent visual object to a target of desire. Their findings, published in Nature, describe a sort of neural switchboard in the fruit fly’s brain that reroutes sensory information to produce different responses. “This is a fundamental question in neuroscience,” Ruta says. “How are brains able to switch the way that they react to the same stimulus?”

Secret Workings of Smell Receptors Revealed for First Time

Quanta Magazine, June 21, 2021

Researchers have finally seen how some smell receptors bind to odor molecules. The work yields new insights into one of the most mysterious and versatile senses. (Vanessa Ruta is featured in the article.)

Mary Jeanne Kreek, pioneer in studies of addiction, has died

Rockefeller News, March 29, 2021

Physician-scientist Mary Jeanne Kreek, the Patrick E. and Beatrice M. Haggerty Professor and a senior attending physician at The Rockefeller University, died March 27 at the age of 84. Kreek was best known for her research into the biology of drug and alcohol addiction. Her work not only yielded new treatments for these disorders, but also influenced societal attitudes toward them.

Paula Volent is named Chief Investment Officer

Rockefeller News, March 25, 2021

Paula Volent, a leading investment manager who oversaw Bowdoin College’s $2 billion endowment for two decades, has been named Rockefeller’s next vice president and chief investment officer. She will assume stewardship of the university’s endowment starting August 15.

Why male mosquitoes leave humans alone

Rockefeller News, February 19, 2021

Male mosquitoes won’t bite you. For one thing, they cannot—males are hopelessly bad at finding humans and lack a specialized stylet to pierce your skin. But even if they could bite you, they would not want to. A new study from the laboratory of Rockefeller’s Leslie Vosshall helps explain why.

Marina Caskey is promoted to professor of clinical investigation

Rockefeller News, December 11, 2020

Marina Caskey, a clinical scientist who leads human trials of immunotherapies for infectious disease, has been promoted to Professor of Clinical Investigation. She is a member of Michel Nussenzweig’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology.

Telomere shortening protects against cancer

Rockefeller News, December 1, 2020

As time goes by, the tips of your chromosomes—called telomeres—become shorter. This process has long been viewed as an unwanted side-effect of aging, but a recent study shows it is in fact good for you. New results from Titia de Lange’s lab provide the first evidence that telomere shortening helps prevent cancer in humans, likely because of its power to curtail cell division.

Scientists discover mosquitoes’ unique blood-taste detectors

Rockefeller News, October 12, 2020

The human blood meal is a favorite recipe for female mosquitoes. So drawn to its taste, they can’t help but bite—and in the process they spread diseases that claim 500,000 lives each year. Yet scientists aren’t sure how the insects can even sense the complex taste of blood, or how they know that this, of all things, is something to gorge on.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to 2 Scientists for Work on Genome Editing

New York Times, October 7, 2020

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was jointly awarded on Wednesday to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for their 2012 work on the development of Crispr-Cas9, a method for genome editing. The announcement marks the first time a science Nobel has been awarded to two women.

A revised map of where working memory resides in the brain

Rockefeller News, September 29, 2020

Rockefeller scientist Priya Rajasethupathy explores the genetic and mechanical basis of working memory. “There were in fact hints from earlier research that multiple brain structures are somehow involved in working memory,” says Priya Rajasethupathy, neuroscientist at Rockefeller University. “Our new findings give us more-tangible insights into what these areas are and how they are contributing.”

How Mechanical Forces Nudge Tumors Toward Malignancy

Rockefeller News, September 2, 2020

A team led by Rockefeller’s Elaine Fuchs found that mechanical properties of the tissue elements that surround pre-malignant tumor cells powerfully shape the development of two of the most common forms of skin cancer, causing one to become far more aggressive and invasive than the other.

Bulgari Supports Rockefeller University COVID-19 Research and Fellowships to Support Women Scientists

Forbes, September 8, 2020

In its ongoing efforts to integrate social, cultural and environment issues into its overall corporate structure, Bulgari announces several important initiatives in support of the Rockefeller University research programs. Perhaps top among them is its establishment of The Bulgari Women & Science Fellowship Fund to assist women in research, and the Bulgari Clinical Fund to finance clinical testing of new therapies and vaccines.

Mosquitos are coming: The Neuroscience of Mosquito Blood Meals

Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, June 26, 2020

2019 Blavatnik Regional Award Winner Laura Duvall is continuing her research on the neurobiology of mosquito behavior, looking for ways to control the world-wide mosquito population and prevent disease spread

Unique mutation reveals a new role for well-known DNA-repair gene

Rockefeller News, June 4, 2020

The discovery of a rare mutation in BRCA2, commonly known as the breast cancer gene, has shed new light on how cells safeguard their genetic material.

A Nobel Path

The Moth, June 3, 2020

Sarah Schlesinger was featured in an episode of The Moth Radio Hour, discussing her earliest experiences at RU and her work with the late Nobel laureate Ralph Steinman.

Mice with patchy coats lay bare how stem cells endure

Rockefeller News, May 12, 2020

New research from Rockefeller’s Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor, Elaine Fuchs, has identified a pair of gene-regulatory proteins responsible for maintaining a perpetual reserve of stem cells, ensuring that new hair will grow.

Sharpest New York minds join in quest to find a cure for the coronavirus

Market Watch, April 14, 2020

Scientists at Rockefeller University, including Research Associate Professor Theodora Hatziioannou, are among those seeking a remedy to coronavirus by studying the neutralizing antibodies that float in the plasma of recovered patients.

Rockefeller scientists launch a broad range of studies into novel coronavirus

Rockefeller News, April 3, 2020

Rockefeller University experts in infectious disease, immunology, biochemistry, structural biology, and genetics have begun over a dozen projects in recent weeks aimed at better understanding the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is responsible for the current global COVID-19 pandemic.

Elaine Fuchs awarded 2020 Canada Gairdner International Award for Biomedical Science

Rockefeller News, March 31, 2020

Elaine Fuchs, a world leader in the study of skin biology, has been named a 2020 recipient of the Canada Gairdner Award, one of the most prestigious international prizes in the biosciences.

How Skin cells embark on a swift yet elaborate death

Rockefeller News, March 13, 2020

The lab led by Rockefeller’s Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor, Elaine Fuchs, recently identified the mechanism that allows skin cells to sense new changes in their environment and convert into squames.

Rockefeller grants commercial license for the development of new HIV drugs

Rockefeller News, February 26, 2020

Rockefeller has entered a licensing agreement with a global pharmaceutical company to advance the development of investigational drugs based on broadly neutralizing antibodies discovered at the university through research led by Marina Caskey and Michel C. Nussenzweig.

Leslie Vosshall Receives the 2020 Pradel Research Award

National Academy of Science, January 22, 2020

Rockefeller scientist Leslie B. Vosshall will receive the 2020 Pradel Research Award for her vital contributions to our understanding of insect olfactory systems, with important implications for protecting human health.

A Woman of Firsts, Early 20th Century

The Scientist, January 13, 2020

Florence Sabin, a scientist at Rockefeller in the early 20th century, was known for her long and illustrious career that spawned landmark discoveries and helped inspire women in STEM at a time when they faced many challenges.

Converstations with Giants in Medicine: Elaine Fuchs

Journal of Clinical Investigation, November 1, 2019

Rockefeller faculty member Elaine Fuchs is best known for revolutionizing the molecular and genetic study of skin. Her research has shed light on dermatologic disorders and all aspects of skin growth and regeneration.

Lymphatic system found to play key role in hair regeneration

Rockefeller News, November 1, 2019

New research, led by Elaine Fuchs, indicates that stem cells can influence tissue regeneration. The study identifies a molecular coordination tool used by stem cells to signal across niches.

Julia Sliwa Receives the Peter and Patricia Gruber Award

ICM Brain and Spine Institute, October 21, 2019

Former W&S Fellow Julia Sliwa received the Peter and Patricia Gruber International Award, which recognizes young neuroscientists for their outstanding work in an international context.

Northwestern faculty elected to National Academy of Science

Northwestern Now, October 21, 2019

Rockefeller alumna Catherine Woolley has been honored with election to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. The academy serves as a source of expertise to inspire action across the private and public sectors regarding critical issues in health, medicine and science.

Shapeshifting receptors may explain mysterious drug failures

Rockefeller News, October 4, 2019

Former W&S Rockefeller scientists, including W&S Graduate Fellow Emily Lorenzen, have found that G protein-coupled receptors interact with so-called receptor activity, making them take up different configurations inside the body than in the lab.

Vanessa Ruta named a 2019 MacArthur Fellow

Rockefeller News, September 25, 2019

Vanessa Ruta, Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Associate Professor, has been named a 2019 MacArthur Fellow. One of the most prestigious funding programs in the world, the MacArthur Fellowships invest in the potential of exceptionally creative individuals, providing unrestricted grants to individuals in the sciences, arts, and other fields.

Announcing the Tri-State’s Brightest Postdoctoral Scientists of 2019

The New York Academy of Sciences, September 4, 2019

Former W&S Graduate Fellow Laura Duvall was one of three researchers to be awarded the 2019 Blavatnik Regional Award for Young Scientists, which recognizes outstanding scientists from academic research institutions across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Regeneron Announces the 2019 Winners of the Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation

Regeneron Pharmacueticals, Inc. (via PR Newswire), July 18, 2019

Former W&S Graduate Fellow Samantha Larsen was one of two scientists to be awarded a top-tier Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation, which recognizes promising early-career scientists.

Hinge-like protein may open new doors in cystic fibrosis treatment

Rockefeller News, July 9, 2019

Jue Chen‘s lab recently became the first to characterize how new drugs for cystic fibrosis, called potentiators, target a protein on the cell membrane, called cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator, at an atomic scale.

Rita Allen Foundation Announces 2019 Scholars

Philanthropy News Digest, July 8, 2019

Li Zhao is among the 2019 class of Rita Allen Foundation Scholars, an annual program that recognizes young biomedical science researchers whose work has the potential to advance human health.

President Announces Recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, July 2, 2019

Priya Rajasethupathy was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), which is the highest honor given by US Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers.

Learning from experience is all in the timing

Rockefeller News, June 26, 2019

Using fruit flies, researchers in Vanessa Ruta’s lab, including former W&S Fellow Annie Handler, showed that an odor can be either appealing or disgusting to an animal depending on when the smell is encountered relative to a reward. The study, described in Cell, describes this process at the cellular level—insights that likely pertain not just to flies, but to learning across the animal kingdom.

Marijuana Damages Young Brains

The New York Times, June 16, 2019

Mary Jeanne Kreek, who heads Rockefeller’s Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases, is co-author of this NYT op-ed explaining the harmful effects of marijuana on brain function for individuals below the age of 25.

New Leadership for Graduate Education

Harvard Medical School News, June 7, 2019

Harvard Medical School announced that Rosalind Segal has been appointed dean for graduate education, effective August 1st. Dr. Segal jointly earned a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University in 1985, and an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1986.

Cellular rivalry promotes healthy skin development

Rockefeller News, May 15, 2019

In a recent study published by Nature, scientists from the laboratory of Elaine Fuchs showed that skin cells in mice engage in two forms of competition, one taking place during early embryonic development and the other occurring just before birth. The researchers believe that this cutthroat cellular conflict is crucial to the cultivation of healthy skin.

You Will Never Smell My World the Way I Do

The New York Times, May 3, 2019

A study led by Leslie Vosshall found that odors such as whiskey’s smokiness, the smell of beets, and lily of the valley perfume can be utterly different depending on your genetic wiring.

Study pinpoints what causes relapse after cancer immunotherapy

Rockefeller News, April 25, 2019

The lab of Elaine Fuchs, Rockefeller’s Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor, has identified the tumor cells responsible for causing relapse in cancer patients who receive immunotherapy. Their research is providing new insight into how these cells thwart the treatment.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative takes collaborative approach to ambitious biomedicine goals, March 26, 2019

In a presentation at the Endocrine Society Annual Meeting, Cori Bargmann, the Rockefeller University’s Torsten N. Wiesel Professor, discussed the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s efforts to cure, prevent, or manage all human disease by the end of the century. Cori concurrently serves as the CZ Initiative’s first president of science.

Another Obstacle for Women in Science: Men Get More Federal Grant Money

The New York Times, March 5, 2019

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that men who were the principal investigators on research projects received $41,000 more than women.

Inside the brains of hungry worms, researchers find clues about how they hunt

Rockefeller News, February 26, 2019

In a new study,the researcher from the laboratory of Cori Bargmann describe neural mechanisms responsible for local search for food, showing that this response can be triggered by either smell- or touch-related cues.

Greek Scientist Receives Award for Breakthrough Multiple Sclerosis Research

Greek USA Reporter, February 23, 2019

Dr. Katerina Akassoglou, a researcher at the University of California who earned her postdoc from RU, has received the International Barancik Prize for Innovation in Multiple Sclerosis Research.

Scientists’ ‘Craziest Experiment Possible’ Actually Works On Mosquitoes

NPR, February 7, 2019

In a paper published Thursday in the journal Cell, Leslie Vosshall and her team demonstrate how human diet drugs satiate mosquitoes’ bloodlust for several days — so they are less likely to feed on humans and spread diseases and will also produce fewer offspring.

New findings could make mosquitos more satisfied—and safer to be around

Rockefeller News, February 7, 2019

Scientists in the lab of Leslie Vosshall have shown that female mosquitoes can be persuaded not to bite at all. Their work, which appears in the journal Cell, illuminates the biology underlying the host-seeking and blood-feeding behaviors that make these insects such a menace—and could lead to new ways of shutting those behaviors down.

‘The Joy of the Discovery’: An Interview with Jennifer Doudna

The New York Review of Books, January 24, 2019

Jennifer Doudna was the recipient of the 2018 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize: An Award Recognizing Outstanding Women in Biomedical Research. The PMG Prize, awarded annually by The Rockefeller University, was established by Dr. Paul Greengard, the Vincent Astor Professor, and his wife, the sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard.

Study explains how geckos gracefully gallop on water

Rockefeller News, December 6, 2018

Jasmine Nirody, a Rockefeller fellow in physics and biology, recently published a study in Current Biology that reveals how Geckos scurry across the water’s surface at impressive speeds.

Mosquito genome opens new avenues for reducing bug-borne disease

Rockefeller News, November 14, 2018

A recent multi-institutional study, led by Leslie Vosshall, has produced a new blueprint of the Aedes aegypti genome that vastly improves upon its predecessor. The study, published in Nature, describes important applications of this resource including multiple strategies for reducing mosquito-borne illnesses.

In tiny worms, researchers find spiking neurons—and clues about brain computation

Rockefeller News, October 2, 2018

Researchers in Cori Bargmann’s laboratory have mapped all 302 neurons that make up the C. elegans nervous system. However, until now, they had never observed action potentials in these cells.

Scientists investigate how DEET confuses countless critters

Rockefeller News, September 26, 2018

First developed in the 1940s, DEET can be found in most bug sprays used today. A recent collaboration between Rockefeller University professors Leslie Vosshall, Cori Bargmann, and former W&S Graduate Fellow has shed light on how this chemical might confound the senses of vastly different species. Their findings were recently published in Nature magazine.

Announcing the Winners of the 2018 Blavatnik Regional Awards from Young Scientists

Blavatnick Awards for Young Scientists, September 5, 2018

Former RU postdoc Shruti Naik, who was recently appointed an Assistant Professor of Immunology & Microbiology at NYU School of Medicine, is the recipient of this prestigious award recognizing outstanding young scientists in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

New faculty member studies the architecture of the genome

Rockefeller News, August 20, 2018

Viviana Risca will join Rockefeller as tenure-track professor heading the new Laboratory of Genome Architecture and Dynamics in January 2019. Her research takes a biophysical approach to examining the detailed structures that organize and support DNA and gene expression in living cells.

Structure of ion channel reveals how insects smell their way around the world

Rockefeller News, August 15, 2018

Taking advantage of recent advances in electron microscopy, Vanessa Ruta’s research answers long-held questions about insect olfaction and evolution.

New faculty member studies the mechanics of development, challenging long-held assumptions

Rockefeller News, July 17, 2018

Amy Shyer, Ph.D., a developmental biologist who just concluded a Miller Fellowship at UC Berkeley, joined the Rockefeller University faculty on July 1, 2018 as a tenure-track Assistant Professor and head of the Laboratory of Morphogenesis.

David Rockefeller Fellowship awarded to graduate student Krithika Venkataraman

Rockefeller News, July 10, 2018

Former Women & Science Graduate Fellow Krithika Venkataraman has been recognized for her study of the hormonal triggers that lead female mosquitoes to toggle between hunting for blood and spawning eggs.

Florence Sabin Pioneered Her Way in Medical Science, Then Made Sure Other Women Could Do the Same, July 6, 2018

Florence Sabin, a pioneering research scientist who worked at The Rockefeller Institute from 1925 to 1938, helped lay the groundwork for curing tuberculosis and helped to promote women doctors in an era when their career options in medicine were limited.

What in the world are telomeres and why do they matter?

BrandeisNOW, April 9, 2018

This year’s winner of the prestigious Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research, Rockefeller University scientist Titia de Lange, will officially receive the honor on Thursday, April 12.

Mosquito Brain Atlas Aims to Reveal Neural Circuitry of Behavior, March 6, 2018

Led by Rockefeller scientist Leslie Vosshall, HHMI researchers have built, the first map of the female mosquito brain. The new resource may ultimately uncover the circuitry behind biting and other behaviors.

Scientists shed light on biological roots of individuality

Rockefeller News, February 16, 2018

Using a newly engineered system that allows scientists to record behavioral information for individual worms over an entire lifecycle, Cori Bargmann is illuminating the biology that guides behavior across different stages of life, as well as behavioral variation within species.

Do Genes Direct Our Behavior? [Video]

Scientific American, December 8, 2017

Rockefeller University neuroscientist Cori Bargmann discusses her efforts to determine the roots of animal behavior, from worms to humans, by studying how genes affect their sense of smell.

Mary E. Hatten honored with the Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience

Rockefeller News, November 28, 2017

Mary E. Hatten, a neuroscientist who studies the mechanisms of neuronal differentiation and migration during the early stages of embryonic development, has been awarded the 2017 Ralph W. Gerard Prize in Neuroscience. The $25,000 prize, given annually by the Society for Neuroscience, honors an outstanding scientist who has made significant contributions to neuroscience throughout his or her career.

Inflammation trains the skin to heal faster

Rockefeller News, October 18, 2017

New research from The Rockefeller University’s Robin Chemers Neustein Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development, conducted in part by former Women & Science Graduate Fellow Samantha Larsen, reveals that wounds or other harmful, inflammation-provoking experiences impart long-lasting memories to stem cells residing in the skin, teaching them to heal subsequent injuries faster.

Cori Bargmann elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Rockefeller News, October 16, 2017

Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist who studies the relationship between genes, neural circuits, and behavior, has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the health and medicine arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

Titia de Lange to receive 2017 Rosenstiel Award

Rockefeller News, October 6, 2017

Titia de Lange, a biochemist who studies the protective ends of chromosomes known as telomeres, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research, a highly prestigious honor presented annually by Brandeis University. She is recognized for her elucidation of the mechanism of telomere protection and the maintenance of genome stability.

JoAnne Stubbe of MIT will receive the 2017 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize

Rockefeller News, October 5, 2017

The Rockefeller University today announced that JoAnne Stubbe will receive the 2017 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, the preeminent international award honoring outstanding women scientists. Stubbe, who is the Novartis Professor of Chemistry and Biology Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will receive the 14th annual Prize in a ceremony at Rockefeller on November 7, 2017. Paula A. Johnson, president of Wellesley College, will present the award.

Team of Rival Scientists Comes Together to Fight Zika

The New York Times, March 30, 2016

With the Zika virus spreading largely unchecked in Latin America and the Caribbean by way of a now-notorious insect, some of the nation’s leading mosquito researchers, including Rockefeller University scientist Leslie Vosshall, are striving to assemble a state-of-the-art DNA map that they say will help them fight the disease with the mosquito’s own genetic code.