March 2, 2007

Kennedy Center investigators’ paper lands national acclaim

Featured Image

A paper by Pat Levitt, Ph.D., left, and Daniel Campbell, Ph.D., was recently honored for its scientific excellence and originality. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

Kennedy Center investigators’ paper lands national acclaim

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigators who recently published groundbreaking research on genetics and autism in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) are receiving the Cozzarelli Prize, an annual award that recognizes PNAS papers of outstanding scientific excellence and originality.

PNAS established the award in 2005 to honor late Editor-in-Chief Nick Cozzarelli, whose lab motto was “Blast ahead.” Cozzarelli was known for encouraging researchers to push the envelope of discovery.

The VKC article, “A genetic variant that disrupts MET transcription is associated with autism,” is “an excellent example of these same qualities,” according to PNAS Editor-in-Chief Randy Schekman.

It was one of six PNAS papers selected from a group of 3,300 to receive this year's award.

An international team of scientists led by VKC Director Pat Levitt, Ph.D., and research fellow Daniel Campbell, Ph.D., reported that a genetic variant associated with the MET gene is common in children with autism and appears more frequently in families who have more than one affected child.

Although both environmental and genetic factors are likely involved in autism, mounting evidence suggests that genes play an important role in an individual's susceptibility to the disorder.

The award will be presented during the PNAS Editorial Board Meeting on April 29 in Washington, D.C.