The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon has announced the recipients of its 2011 awards for scientific leadership and innovation in Oregon. The awards were presented Nov. 9 at a reception at Portland's Governor Hotel.
- The MRF presented a Mentor Award to J. Gary Tallman, Ph.D., the Taul Watanabe Endowed Chair of Science and director of the Office for Faculty Research and Resources at Willamette University. As a researcher and educator, Tallman has inspired countless students to pursue careers in science. His research skills and ability to attract research funding in the competitive field of cell biology have helped sustain high-caliber, internationally respected research programs, bringing great opportunities to his students. Tallman engages students with respect, gives them latitude in pursuing their interests, gives them a sense of ownership of their work, and challenges them to achieve more.
- The Discovery Award was presented to Gail Mandel, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, for distinguished achievements in neuroscience. Mandel is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the first Oregon woman to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She isolated and sequenced the cDNA from the mammalian sodium channel gene, helping to form the first molecular understanding of the sodium channel. Her work in gene expression provided an explanation for how neurons in the developing brain acquire their specific characteristics.
- A second Discovery Award was presented to Chris Q. Doe, Ph.D., professor of biology at the Institutes of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at the University of Oregon. Doe, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and world-leading developmental neurobiologist, made landmark contributions to the study of stem cell biology and cell fate patterning within the nervous system. Using a drosophila model to study central nervous system development, Doe identified a mutant fruit fly gene, dubbed Prospero, which features a defect that regulates other genes and triggers nervous system cells to change their identities.
- The Richard T. Jones New Investigator Award was presented to Hui Zong, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and member of the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon. As a leader in mouse genetic modeling, Zong has made an impact on neuroscience and cancer research. Zong developed a novel method called MADM for making sparse GFP-labeled mutant clones in mice, enabling investigation of tumor-initiating stages that were inaccessible to researchers using conventional tools. He used the MADM system to study the origin of glioblastoma in the brain, and is now using it to investigate medulloblastoma, one of the most common brain tumors in children.