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Hamm’s research honored by Dutch pharmacology society

Oct. 25, 2012, 10:25 AM

Heidi Hamm, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology, has won the 2012 Ariens Award from the Dutch Pharmacological Society.

Heidi Hamm, Ph.D.

Hamm is the ninth American, the first woman and the first Vanderbilt pharmacologist to receive the award, which was established in 1984. The 2010 winner, Stanford University’s Brian Kobilka, Ph.D., just won a share of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Hamm was honored by the Dutch Pharmacological Society Oct. 1 at its annual meeting in Amsterdam where she presented the Ariens Lecture. The award is named for the late Dutch pharmacologist, Everhardus Jacobus Ariens, who made important contributions to understanding of the function of receptors.

“Professor Ariens was a founding father of pharmacology as well as medicinal chemistry,” said Hamm, who also holds the endowed Aileen M. Lange and Annie Mary Lyle Chair in Cardiovascular Research.

“In the 1950s, before there was any inkling of the molecular nature of receptors, he introduced the mathematical description of ligand-receptor interactions and the concepts of antagonists, affinity and intrinsic activity,” she said. “It’s a great honor to be recognized by the Ariens award.”

Hamm is a world leader in G proteins, intracellular molecular switches that translate and transmit signals from membrane-bound G protein-coupled receptors deep inside the cell. Learning how G proteins interact with their receptors could lead to new drugs for disorders as diverse as thrombotic diseases and Alzheimer’s disease.

Hamm has received numerous honors for her research, including a Glaxo Cardiovascular Discovery Award and the Fritz Lipmann Memorial Lectureship at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).

She served as ASBMB president from 2006 to 2008 and last year was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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