American Association of Anatomist announces winners of Young Investigator Awards

Published on December 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM · No Comments

The American Association of Anatomist's (AAA) Young Investigator Awards combine three long-standing AAA awards-Bensley, Herrick, and Mossman-with the Morphological Sciences Award, all recognizing investigators in the early stages of their careers who have made important contributions to biomedical science through their research in cell/molecular biology, developmental biology, comparative neuroanatomy, or the morphological sciences.

This year's Young Investigator Awards Committee was chaired by Andrew J. Ewald (Johns Hopkins Univ. School of Medicine) and included Iain Cheeseman (Whitehead Institute), Julian Guttman (Simon Fraser Univ.), Konrad Hochedlinger (Massachusetts General Hospital), Jason Radley (Univ. of Iowa), Jeremy Reiter (Univ. of California, San Francisco) Peter Reddien (Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research), and Alexis M. Stranahan (Medical College of Georgia).

Recipients of all four awards will present lectures in AAA's Young Investigator Awards Symposium, scheduled for Sunday, April 21, 4:30-6:30 p.m., at the AAA 125th Anniversary Annual Meeting/EB 2013 in Boston.

Tamara Franz-Odendaal, an associate professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, will receive AAA's Morphological Sciences Award and present an award lecture on "Unraveling the Complexity of the Skull: an Evo-Devo Approach" at the AAA Annual Meeting during EB 2013. The award to Franz-Odendaal recognizes her skillful use of morphological methods to conduct research at the interface between development and evolution, resulting in major contributions to our understanding of the vertebrate skeletal system, in particular the scleral skeleton.

Thomas Jhou, an assistant professor in Neurosciences/Neurosciences Research at the Medical University of South Carolina, will receive AAA's 2013 C.J. Herrick Award in Neuroanatomy and will present an award lecture on "Dopamine and Anti-dopamine Systems: Polar Opposite Roles in Behavior" at the AAA Annual Meeting at EB 2013. The award recognizes Jhou for the significant role he has played in unraveling the complex midbrain and hypothalamic circuitry involved in arousal and motivation, including a noteworthy discovery involving characterization of the rostromedial tegmental nucleus as a critical cell group that interacts with dopaminergic circuitry to convey negative reward signals.

Joanna Wysocka, an associate professor at Stanford School of Medicine, will receive AAA's 2013 Harland Winfield Mossman Award in Developmental and she will present an award lecture entitled "Enhancer-mediated Regulation of Developmental Gene Expression" at the AAA Annual Meeting at EB 2013. The award recognizes Wysocka for her prominent role in the study of epigenetic regulation of gene expression in developmental biology, using biochemical approaches in her investigations of chromatin in embryonic stem cells and in embryos leading to seminal contributions such as identification of chromatin regulators of stem cell fate and discovery of epigenetic priming of developmental enhancers in pluripotent cells.

Thomas Maresca, an assistant professor in the Biology Department at University of Massachusetts Amherst, will receive the 2013 R.R. Bensley Award in Cell Biology and present an award lecture entitled "Stepping into a Tense Relationship: Mechano-molecular Regulation of Cell Division by Force" at the AAA Annual Meeting during EB 2013. The award to Maresca recognizes him for his elegant cell biological approaches to the study of spindle assembly and dynamics during mitosis, resulting in important contributions to our understanding of force and signaling at kinetochores.

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