Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

January 7, 1999

Dickson Prize awarded

Molecular biologist James E. Darnell Jr. has won the 1998-99 Dickson Prize in Medicine for significant, progressive contributions to the field of medicine.

Darnell is the Vincent Astor Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology at The Rockefeller University.

He will lecture on "The STATs: A Tale of How Basic Biological Studies Reveal Clinical Opportunities" at 4 p.m. Jan. 11 in lecture room 6 of Scaife Hall. A reception will follow.

On Jan. 12 at 9 a.m., Darnell will give a seminar, "The STATs: Signaling Genes From the Cell Surface," in lecture room 5 of Scaife Hall.

For 40 years, Darnell has conducted research into the way cells retrieve information from the DNA that makes up the genes in the cell nucleus.

Perhaps the most far-reaching results from Darnell's lab began with research in the 1980s that culminated in 1992 with the discovery of a direct signaling pathway from the cell surface to genes in the nucleus.

Darnell's group discovered that a set of dual function proteins they named STATs (Signal Tranducers and Activators of Transcription) remain quiescent in the cell until circulating polypeptides bind to their specific cell surface receptors. Specific STATs then are activated, pair and travel to the nucleus to turn on appropriate genes. This discovery has led to a flurry of research into the ways cells receive signals to become and remain specialized, to respond to growth factors, and to deal with infection.

The Dickson Prize in Medicine, awarded by Pitt, and the Dickson Prize in Science, awarded by Carnegie Mellon, honor the nation's outstanding leaders in medicine and science. The awards were established in 1969 by the estates of Joseph Z. Dickson, a physician and surgeon in Pittsburgh for 61 years, and his wife Agnes Fischer Dickson, a nursing professional.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 31 Issue 9

Leave a Reply