H. Robert Horvitz, the David H. Koch Professor of Biology, will receive the 14th annual Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research for his landmark discovery that specific genes control programmed cell death, or apoptosis. The award includes a prize of $50,000.
Dr. Horvitz's discovery of a genetic pathway responsible for programmed cell death revealed that apoptosis is an active, naturally occurring and specific biological process, much like cell division and cell differentiation. Scientists have since shown that this pathway is shared among organisms, including humans, and is involved in a variety of human diseases, including neurological disorders.
"Dr. Horvitz's discovery fundamentally altered how scientists view the developmental processes generating the central nervous system," said Dr. Frank D. Yocca, executive director of neuroscience drug discovery at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute. "By identifying the genes and proteins responsible for cell death, Dr. Horvitz opened the door to the possibility of new interventions in a variety of human diseases."
Horvitz, a neurobiologist, developmental biologist and geneticist, does research in MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research and at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
Professor Howard Brenner of the Department of Chemical Engineering will receive the 2001 Fluid Dynamics Prize from the Division of Fluid Dynamics of the American Physical Society. The $6,000 prize is given to recognize and encourage outstanding achievement in fluid dynamics research. Brenner was cited for "his outstanding and sustained research in physico-chemical hydrodynamics, the quality of his monographs and textbooks, and his long-standing service to the fluid mechanics community." He is only the second chemical engineering recipient of this award since its inception. Previous MIT faculty winners were Professors Chia-Chiao Lin (1979) and Louis N. Howard (1997), both of applied mathematics.
Two MIT researchers, Christopher S. Hayes and David M. MacAlpine, have received postdoctoral fellowships from the Cancer Research Fund of the Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Foundation. The awards go to young scientists doing research related to the search for cancer causes, mechanisms, therapies and prevention. Dr. Hayes' project is "Identification of SsrA-tagged Proteins by Proteomics" and Dr. MacAlpine is researching "Identification and Assembly of Replication Origins in Drosophila."
Ruth Levitsky, an administrative assistant in the Department of Economics, has been elected one of Toastmaster International's district governors for 2001-02. As one of the organization's top officers, she will oversee approximately 1,200 members in 188 clubs in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Toastmasters is an educational organization that helps develop and practice public speaking and leadership skills.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 12, 2001.