2016 Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Awards Announced

Media Contacts:
Nalini Padmanabhan, ASHG Communications Manager
301.634.7346 | press@ashg.org

Chloe Poston, GSA Policy and Communications Manager
301.634.7302 | press@genetics-gsa.org

A. Sarah Hreha, The Gruber Foundation Executive Director
203.432.6231 | sarah.hreha@gruber.yale.edu

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
2:00 pm U.S. Eastern Time (UTC-05:00)

BETHESDA, MD – The Genetics Society of America (GSA), the American Society for Human Genetics (ASHG) and The Gruber Foundation are pleased to announce Maria Barna, PhD, of Stanford University; and Carolyn McBride, PhD, of Princeton University, as the 2016 recipients of the Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award.

The Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award is funded by The Gruber Foundation and is awarded every three years to two women geneticists at the beginning of their independent research careers. Winners are selected by a joint committee appointed by GSA and ASHG from nominees from around the world. The award recognizes outstanding genetics research in two categories: mammalian genetics, including human genetics, and non-mammalian genetics. Each winner will receive a $75,000 award to be used as she chooses for her research.

“The Rosalind Franklin Award celebrates the accomplishments of the next generation of young women scientists, who are following the path laid down by our fore-mothers,” said Mary-Claire King, PhD, Chair of the Rosalind Franklin Award committee and Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine (Medical Genetics) at the University of Washington. “Reading the creative work of these remarkable young women is a great joy for the committee. We congratulate the winners and send our very best wishes for continued success to all the nominees.”

Maria Barna, PhD, 2016 recipient of the Rosalind Franklin Award (Photo courtesy Dr. Barna)

Dr. Barna, the 2016 recipient in human and mammalian genetics, uses mouse genetics to understand how ribosomes process information to create proteins for different types of cells and tissues. Dr. Barna received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from New York University and her PhD in molecular biology from Cornell University and Sloan-Kettering Institute. Her doctoral research focused on the genetic basis of limb development. Building on her post-doctoral research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Barna currently studies the ribosome molecular machine in her own laboratory at Stanford University. She works with a series of mouse mutants to reveal traits affecting processes including eye development, limb development, and reproduction. She has demonstrated that ribosomes are highly heterogeneous and specialized, providing an additional layer of gene regulation that she terms the “ribocode.” Her research has implications for control of cell specification and tissue patterning across all species and in human medical genetics for multiple birth defects and human cancers.

Carolyn McBride, PhD, 2016 recipient of the Rosalind Franklin Award (Photo courtesy Dr. McBride)

Dr. McBride, the 2016 recipient in genetics of non-mammalian organisms, combines neuroscience, evolutionary biology, genomics, and field work to understand the genetic bases of mosquito behavior. Dr. McBride received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Williams College and her PhD in population biology from University of California, Davis. In her doctoral research, she studied the evolutionary changes to fruit flies and butterflies that result when they shift to preferring a new food plant. As an early-career scientist at Rockefeller University, Dr. McBride shifted her research focus to neurogenetics, undertaking an entirely new set of experimental approaches. She has been instrumental in establishing the mosquito as a model system to understand the genetic basis of behavior. For example, she applied genetics and molecular biology to understand why some populations of mosquitoes favor non-human animal hosts and others favor human hosts. Dr. McBride’s research demonstrates how genes control recently evolved behaviors that contribute to the spread of human disease by mosquitoes.

The committee also gives honorable mention to two additional outstanding candidates: Rachel Dutton, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, for her work on the genetic mechanisms of formation of microbial communities in cheese; and Elizabeth Murchison, PhD, of Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, for her work on transmissible cancers in dogs and Tasmanian devils.

Award Presentation: The 2016 Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award will be presented at the ASHG 2015 Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, October 9, 2015, in conjunction with the Gruber Genetics Prize Presentation.

About the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)

Founded in 1948, the American Society of Human Genetics is the primary professional membership organization for human genetics specialists worldwide. Its nearly 8,000 members include researchers, academicians, clinicians, laboratory practice professionals, genetic counselors, nurses, and others with an interest in human genetics. The Society serves scientists, health professionals, and the public by providing forums to: (1) share research results through the ASHG Annual Meeting and in The American Journal of Human Genetics; (2) advance genetic research by advocating for research support; (3) educate current and future genetics professionals, health care providers, advocates, policymakers, educators, students, and the public about all aspects of human genetics; and (4) promote genetic services and support responsible social and scientific policies. For more information, visit: http://www.ashg.org.

9650 Rockville Pike | Bethesda, MD 20814 | 301.634.7300 | society@ashg.org | www.ashg.org

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About The Genetics Society of America (GSA)

Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional scientific society for genetics researchers and educators. The Society’s more than 5,000 members worldwide work to deepen our understanding of the living world by advancing the field of genetics, from the molecular to the population level. GSA promotes research and fosters communication through a number of GSA-sponsored conferences including regular meetings that focus on particular model organisms. GSA publishes two peer-reviewed, peer-edited scholarly journals: GENETICS, which has published high quality original research across the breadth of the field since 1916, and G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, an open-access journal launched in 2011 to disseminate high quality foundational research in genetics and genomics. The Society also has a deep commitment to education and fostering the next generation of scholars in the field. For more information about GSA, please visit www.genetics-gsa.org.

9650 Rockville Pike | Bethesda, MD 20814 | 301.634.7300 | press@genetics-gsa.org | www.genetics-gsa.org

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