February 20, 1998

Two researchers garner Biochemistry accolades

Two researchers garner Biochemistry accolades

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Conrad Wagner, Ph.D.

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Richard Armstrong, Ph.D.

Two members of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Department of Biochemistry have been honored by their scientific peers.

Conrad Wagner, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry, has been elected as a fellow of the Society of American Nutritional Sciences, and Richard N. Armstrong, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry, has been appointed to the Board of Editors of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Wagner is the fifth Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty member to be honored by the American Society of Nutritional Sciences. Other fellows include emeritus professors of Biochemistry Dr. William J. Darby, Dr. Harry P. Broquist, and Dr. John G. Coniglio. Dr. Frank Chytil, professor of Biochemistry, was elected fellow in 1991.

Fellowships are awarded to scientists who have had distinguished careers in nutrition and who are 65 years or older.

"It is a great honor to be elected into the society and one that really reflects the work of the entire department of Biochemistry," said Wagner.

Wagner's research has been aimed at understanding the role of single-carbon compounds in cellular mechanisms. Folic acid, which has garnered attention for its role in neural tube defects in infants, has been a target of study in Wagner's lab for many years. Divining the mechanisms by which these single-carbon compounds impact gene activation in cells may lead to greater awareness of cellular function and action.

"Some researchers have suggested that folic acid can effect vascular disease as well as its known role in neural tube defects," said Wagner.

The 1998 pool of scientists from which Wagner was elected included 590 researchers from around the world. Each year only 10-12 fellows are elected.

Armstrong will be the only member of the 12-person Board of Editors whose primary academic appointment is in a medical school.

"It is the flagship journal of the American Chemical Society, which is the largest scientific society in the United States," said Armstrong. "Selection to the board was a great surprise and quite an honor. From a chemist's perspective, it is a great position."

Armstrong's primary area of research at VUMC is on understanding enzyme mechanisms.

"Right now we are studying a class of enzymes called glutothione transferases, some of which are involved in antibiotic resistance," said Armstrong.

During his tenure as a member of the board, Armstrong's office will handle the review of350-400 manuscripts each year submitted for publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.