The Basic Sciences Division's Dr. Linda Buck was one of four to receive the 2007 Medal of Merit, Washington state's highest honor for civilians, at a ceremony Jan. 24, during a joint legislative session in Olympia. Gov. Chris Gregoire presented the medals to the recipients, who included former astronaut Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, president and chief executive officer of the Museum of Flight; former Gov. Dan Evans; and Dale Chihuly, the world-renowned glass artist and the creator of the Center's 2006 Hutch Award.
"I am deeply honored to present these medals to such deserving Washingtonians," Gregoire said. "They are true examples of the Washington way — going above and beyond to serve and help your neighbors and fellow citizens."
Born in Seattle, Buck earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and microbiology at the University of Washington and a doctorate in immunology from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. She did her postdoctoral work at Columbia University. After 11 years as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, Buck joined the Center in 2002. She is a recipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for groundbreaking research into how pheromones and odors are detected in the nose and interpreted in the brain.
Buck is also an affiliate professor of physiology and biophysics at the UW, an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Created in 1886, the Medal of Merit recognizes individuals for their exceptional conduct in providing outstanding services to citizens. Buck and the other honorees join 22 past recipients of the award, including Center Nobel laureates Dr. Lee Hartwell, president and director, and Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, director emeritus of the Clinical Research Division.
A committee meets annually to consider candidates for nomination for the Medal of Merit, a program under the Secretary of State.