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NIH Record

Two NIGMS Grantees Receive 'Genius Awards'

Dr. Carolyn R. Bertozzi and Dr. Laura L. Kiessling, chemists whose research is supported by NIGMS, were recently named recipients of 1999 MacArthur Fellowships.

The MacArthur Fellows Program was established in 1981 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to provide unrestricted fellowships — commonly referred to as "genius awards" — to "exceptionally talented and promising individuals who have shown evidence of originality, dedication to creative pursuits, and capacity for self-direction." Its fellows are awarded 5-year stipends, determined by their ages, to pursue their endeavors however they choose.

The foundation recognized Bertozzi with a $255,000 grant for her important contributions to the understanding of cell interactions. She has developed a method that can be used to trick cells into expressing nonnatural sugars on their surfaces, which allows the cells to be chemically modified. This technique provides a valuable tool for investigating and developing treatments for disease processes such as infection, inflammation and cancer proliferation.

Kiessling was recognized with a $285,000 grant for the development of innovative organic syntheses that may lead to a better understanding of the biology of inflammation. She has designed compounds that can cause specific inflammation-mediating proteins to aggregate and be shed from the cell surface. This tool provides the basis for the future development of drugs for treating inflammation.

Bertozzi is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned an A.B. from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Kiessling is an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She earned a B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. from Yale University.

The MacArthur Foundation, established in 1978, is a private, independent grant-making organization dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. One of the 10 largest foundations in the United States, it awards more than $150 million in grants annually.

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