June 9, 2006

Dedication, inquisitiveness lead to biochemistry award for Lin

Featured Image

Fang Lin, Ph.D., is analyzing G protein signaling during early vertebrate development.
Photo by Anne Rayner

Dedication, inquisitiveness lead to biochemistry award for Lin

Fang Lin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Heidi Hamm, Ph.D., was awarded the Clara Benson Travel Fellowship from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).

Lin and four other young female scientists received plaques and $2,500 awards in honor of Clara C. Benson, the only woman in the group of 81 scientists who founded the society in 1906. Now with over 11,900 members, the ASBMB advances the science of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Nominees for the Clara Benson Travel Fellowship were selected based on “their scientific contributions to biochemistry and molecular biology, and their potential for continuing a high level of scientific endeavor,” according to the ASBMB.

Lin has been analyzing G protein signaling during early vertebrate development using zebrafish as a model system. When Lin started her project, standard approaches to probing G protein roles during development had yielded little information, and almost nothing was known, said Hamm.

“Fang took on a very ambitious project, to clone zebrafish G proteins, and then use morpholino antisense studies to determine the effects of decreased expression of various G proteins in development,” Hamm said.

Lin and Hamm, in collaboration with Lilianna Solnica-Krezel, Ph.D., professor of Biological Sciences, demonstrated that the G proteins G-alpha-12 and G-alpha-13 participate in cell movements that shape tissues during a period of zebrafish development called gastrulation. The findings were published last year in The Journal of Cell Biology.

“Fang's dedication to the highest-quality science and her willingness to ask tough in vivo questions and design difficult novel approaches to investigate them are unparalleled,” Hamm said.

Hamm noted that the Department of Pharmacology was well-represented by its postdoctoral fellows and graduate students at the recent ASBMB annual meeting, held in conjunction with meetings of other scientific societies that are members of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

“I received so many compliments from people at the FASEB meetings on how interesting the science is that is going on in the department,” said Hamm, president-elect of ASBMB.