Friday, January 16, 2009

2008 Warren Triennial Prize awarded

The MGH research community gathered Oct. 29 to celebrate the presentation of the 2008 Warren Triennial Prize to Gary Ruvkun, PhD, of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology, and Victor Ambros, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The investigators were honored for their discovery that tiny molecules of RNA play a critical role in controlling the activity of important genes. Ruvkun and Ambros also were honored for the same work with the 2008 Lasker Award, along with David Baulcombe, PhD, FRS, of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. 

“Gary and Victor discovered something that was totally unexpected – that RNA itself could be a regulatory element at the level of gene expression and ultimately at the level of proteins,” says Dennis Ausiello, MD, MGH physician-in-chief and a member of the committee that selected Ruvkun and Ambros for the Warren Prize. “Their remarkable findings led to the creation of an entirely new field of investigation, just the sort of work that should be honored with this award.”

Established in 1871, the Warren Triennial Prize is named for John Collins Warren, MD, a co-founder of the MGH, who also performed the first surgical operation on a patient under ether anesthesia. Over the years, 22 Warren Triennial recipients also have received the Nobel Prize. Along with the afternoon symposium, at which the recipients discussed their work, the 2008 celebration was expanded to include an evening reception and dinner at the Liberty Hotel.

Nobel-Prize-winning geneticist Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who spoke at the Warren Triennial dinner, says, “These two outstanding scientists complement one another – Gary, theimpetuousconceptual designer of grand schemes, and Victor, the steady builder of large complex sets of experiments. Their research has changed how we understand diseases such as cancer and chronic heart failure and may provide new means of treating many diseases. The MGH can be proud that the excellence of their patient care is reflected in the excellence of their science.”


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