Continuing a tradition of excellence

Molecular and Cellular Biology Program grad students are among 17 winners of award that honors late center scientist Hal Weintraub

Seventeen graduate students from the United States and Canada — including two at the center — have been chosen to receive the 2004 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, sponsored by the Basic Sciences Division. Nominations were solicited internationally; the winners were selected on the basis of the quality, originality and significance of their work.

The recipients, all advanced students at or near the completion of their studies in the biological sciences, will deliver seminars on their research tomorrow and Saturday at a scientific symposium in Pelton Auditorium. The symposium also will include poster presentations by Fred Hutchinson graduate students.

Tom Fazzio and Michael McMurray, both Molecular and Cellular Biology Program graduate students completing their doctoral work in Basic Sciences Division laboratories, are among those who will be honored.

The award, established in 2000, honors the late Dr. Harold Weintraub, a founding member of the Basic Sciences Division, who in 1995 died from brain cancer at age 49. Weintraub was an international leader in the field of molecular biology.

Hal's lasting legacy

Among his many contributions, he identified genes responsible for instructing cells to differentiate, or develop, into specific tissues such as muscle and bone.

"Hal was one of the most outstanding scientists of his generation, as well as one of the most unpretentious. He had the knack of identifying the important questions in biology and designing experimental approaches that were creative, simple and elegant," said Dr. Mark Groudine, director of the Basic Sciences Division.

"By nurturing colleagues, students and postdocs, and helping all of us become better scientists, Hal was instrumental in establishing the collegial atmosphere at the center. We believe having a symposium recognizing the achievements of young scientists is a great way to honor Hal and the recipients of this award," Groudine said.

A committee comprised of faculty and graduate students chose the award recipients. Although the student committee members did not evaluate nominations for candidates from the center, Jenny Tenlen, a committee member and graduate student in Dr. Jim Priess' lab, said that Fazzio and McMurray were selected from an outstanding pool of applicants.

"Each graduate program may only nominate one applicant. That means the selection committee is evaluating the cream of the crop from institutions around the world," she said. "It's clear that Tom and Michael are both outstanding students."

Award recipients receive a certificate, travel expenses and an honorarium from the Weintraub and Groudine Fund, established to foster intellectual exchange through the promotion of programs for graduate students, fellows and visiting scholars.

For more information about the Weintraub award, visit the program's Web site:

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