FASEB Announces Recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Science Award

Jun 15, 2010, 16:39 ET from Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

BETHESDA, Md., June 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is pleased to announce that Gail R. Martin, Ph.D., will be the recipient of the FASEB 2011 Excellence in Science Award.

The award recognizes women whose outstanding career achievements in biological science have contributed significantly to further our understanding of a particular discipline by excellence in research. This prestigious award, sponsored in total by Eli Lilly and Company, carries with it an unrestricted research grant of $10K. Dr. Martin will receive her award and present an award lecture in 2011 (location to be determined).

Early in her career, Gail Martin laid the groundwork for the discovery of embryonic stem cells, and she was the person who coined the term "embryonic stem cells" (ES cells) to distinguish pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass (ICM) of normal mouse embryos from teratocarcinoma-derived stem cells. She has gone on to explore how the family of fibroblast growth factors function to regulate an array of developmental processes. Working with chicken and mouse embryos, she identified fibroblast growth factors as the molecules responsible for the biologic activity found in the Apical Ectodermal Ridge, a portion of the epithelium required for limb outgrowth and patterning. Her initial discovery represented the first identification of a molecule that mediates epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during development, and one of the first to identify a protein responsible for the activity of an organizing center. This served as a paradigm for understanding how inductive signaling controls morphogenetic events in the embryo. Her studies have also provided insight into the role of FGFs in several human diseases caused by defects in FGF signaling. Additionally, Dr. Martin and her colleagues were the first to demonstrate that female pluripotent stem cells contain two active X-chromosomes and can undergo X-inactivation in vitro when they form embryoid bodies, and she went on to characterize some of the epigenetic events leading to X-inactivation. Her contributions to developmental biology extend into other areas as well.  Her supporting letters indicate that she has frequently developed new approaches to address critical issues, and she often provides the methods and approaches to other scientists before they are published. She has published well over 100 peer review manuscripts, serving as senior author on the majority of them. Many of her publications in top tier journals, including Nature, Science, Cell, Development, PNAS, etc, and her first in field discoveries are well known by developmental biologists around the world.

The quality and importance of Dr. Martin's work led to her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991), and to the US National Academy of Sciences (2002). She has been the recipient of the E.G. Conklin medal from the Society for Developmental Biology for excellence in developmental biology research (2002), the Ernst W. Bertner Memorial Award from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (2006), and the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize from The Rockefeller University (shared with Beatrice Mintz and Elizabeth Robertson), an international award to recognize the accomplishments of outstanding women scientists (2007).

Dr. Martin is also recognized for her tremendous mentoring contributions. She played a leadership role in the establishment of the UCSF Graduate Program in Developmental Biology and has served as its Director continuously since 1986.  She has trained numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have gone on to become leaders in their own right. Letters from mentees praised the guidance they received not only when they were in her laboratory but also that they continue to receive throughout their careers.

Dr. Martin is also outstanding in her service contributions. She served as President of the Society for Developmental Biology from 2006-2007. She has also served on numerous peer review committees, editorial boards, etc.

For more information, please visit the FASEB Excellence in Science website: http://www1.faseb.org/excellenceinscience

FASEB is composed of 23 societies with more than 100,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. FASEB enhances the ability of scientists and engineers to improve—through their research—the health, well-being and productivity of all people. Our mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

SOURCE Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology