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NINDS’s Roll-Mecak Is 2016 Blavatnik Finalist

Roll-Mecak stands in front of Blavatnik Science Symposium banner

Dr. Antonina Roll-Mecak of NINDS presents at the third annual Blavatnik Science Symposium, which featured research of the 2016 national finalists and honorees from previous years.

Dr. Antonina Roll-Mecak, chief of NINDS’s cell biology and biophysics unit, was recently named one of 31 finalists for the 2016 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. The awards celebrate exceptional young researchers who drive the next generation of scientific innovation by answering the most complex scientific questions of today. The awards were established by the Blavatnik Family Foundation in 2007 and are administered by the New York Academy of Sciences.

Thirty-one finalists were selected among 3 categories—life sciences, physical sciences and engineering, and chemistry—from more than 300 nominations of outstanding faculty-rank researchers from 148 of the nation’s leading academic and research institutions. Roll-Mecak was one of 10 finalists selected in the life sciences category.  According to the foundation, she and her fellow finalists are addressing difficult scientific questions with transformative insight, innovative strategies and revolutionary technologies.

Roll-Mecak’s laboratory studies intracellular organization and movement, with a primary interest in microtubules. Microtubules are components of the cytoskeleton and serve as the structural “scaffold” or platform of all cells. She was recognized for her key contributions and discoveries in understanding cytoskeletal regulation, mechanisms of microtubule dynamics and laying the groundwork for deciphering the complexities of the tubulin code.

Roll-Mecak and Ferré-D’Amaré smiling

Roll-Mecak is joined by NHLBI senior investigator Dr. Adrian Ferré-D’Amaré, who represented NIH director Dr. Francis Collins at the award ceremony.

The finalists competed for three spots as 2016 Blavatnik National Laureates. Laureates and finalists were honored at an annual awards ceremony Sept. 12 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Roll-Mecak earned her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City in 1996, and earned her Ph.D. in molecular biophysics from the Rockefeller University in 2002. She conducted her postdoctoral studies with Dr. Ron Vale at the University of California, San Francisco, in the department of cellular and molecular pharmacology. She joined NINDS in 2009.

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