January 14, 2002
UCSC scientists honored for top research paper in Science
By Tim Stephens
Harry Noller, the Sinsheimer Professor of Molecular Biology, and his coauthors on
a groundbreaking paper published last year have received a major award in recognition
of their achievements. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
has awarded them the Newcomb Cleveland Prize, which is given annually to the authors
of an outstanding paper published in the association's journal Science.
The winning paper described in unprecedented detail the structure of the ribosome,
a tiny molecular machine crucial to all forms of life. Ribosomes are the protein
factories of all living cells. Noller's group used a technique called x-ray crystallography
to obtain precise images of the ribosome's structure. It is the largest molecular
structure ever solved by x-ray crystallography.
|Above, Harry Noller, left, and Marat Yusupov and Gulnara Yusupova, right, are
among coauthors awarded the Newcomb Cleveland Prize. Coauthors Albion Baucom
and Kate Lieberman are below. Top photo: UCSC Photo Services;
bottom photo: Center for Molecular Biology of RNA
In addition to Noller, who directs the Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, the authors
included Marat Yusupov and Gulnara Yusupova, a husband-and-wife team who were visiting
researchers in Noller's lab and are now at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular
and Cellular Biology in Strasbourg, France. The other coauthors and corecipients
of the prize are Albion Baucom, a computer specialist in the RNA Center; postdoctoral
researcher Kate Lieberman; Thomas Earnest at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory;
and Jamie Cate, now a faculty member at UC Berkeley and formerly a postdoctoral fellow
in Noller's lab.
The Newcomb Cleveland Prize, established in 1923 with funds donated by Newcomb Cleveland
of New York City, is the oldest award given by AAAS. Winning papers are chosen for
fundamental contributions to basic knowledge or technical achievements of far-reaching
A formal presentation of the prize will take place at an awards ceremony and luncheon
on Saturday, February 16, at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston. Each of the recipients
will receive a bronze medal, travel and hotel expenses to attend the meeting, and
a share of the $5,000 prize.
Noller has been studying the ribosome for more than 30 years. Last year, he received
the prestigious Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical
Science in recognition of his accomplishments.
Understanding the workings of the ribosome has practical significance because many
antibiotics work by binding to and disrupting bacterial ribosomes. Ongoing research
by Noller and others on the ribosome's structure may lead to the development of new
and more effective antibiotics.
The prize-winning paper was initially published online in March 2001, and appeared
in print in the May 4 issue of Science.
Return to Front Page