Scientific community recognizes UMass med school researcher, mentor

April 7th, 2011
The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has named Melissa J. Moore, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the winner of the society's 2011 William C. Rose Award. Moore will present her award lecture, titled "Pre-mRNA Processing and mRNA Metabolism," at 8:30 a.m. April 12 in Ballroom C of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., as part of the Experimental Biology 2011 conference.

Moore, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is noted for her work with gene splicing and messenger RNA. She was nominated for the award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to biochemical and molecular biological research and her demonstrated commitment to the training of younger scientists.

"Melissa Moore is a paradigm for the Rose Award," said UMMS professor and chairman C. Robert Matthews in nominating Moore. "She is an outstanding scientist, a caring mentor and a terrific colleague. When she perceives a need - from her students, her colleagues or her institution— she always steps forward to fill that need."

Moore, who arrived at UMMS only a few years ago and today is a co-director of its RNA Therapeutics Institute, has initiated and led several programs there that will affect the development of translational research, Matthews said.

Intrigued by enzymes while working on her undergraduate thesis at the College of William and Mary, the Virginia native applied to only one school for graduate studies— the Massachusetts Institute of Technology— and went on to earn her doctorate in biological chemistry and complete postdoctoral research there. Under the supervision of Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, she focused on RNA metabolism and developed a widely adopted technique for manipulating RNA molecules. Soon thereafter, she joined Brandeis University as a faculty member.

"Melissa's success in mentoring is derived from her uncanny ability to enthusiastically promote cutting-edge science while providing an invigorating and supportive setting for that work," said Melissa Jurica of the University of California, Santa Cruz. "She understands that successful science is carried out by secure and confident people. When I visited her lab as a postdoctoral candidate, everyone in her group underscored her people-managing skills while proclaiming her brilliance."

James E. Dahlberg of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health said one of Moore's strengths is "her willingness to take provocative and controversial stands on scientific issues, which then serve as a basis for designing clever tests that can either support or rule out her models."

Dahlberg said he appreciated Moore's ability to acknowledge and respond when change is needed: "Often she is right, but on those occasions when she learns that her proposals are incomplete or incorrect, she gladly accepts the facts and does not stubbornly hold to the old ideas just for their own sake."

The William C. Rose Award was established to honor the legacy of Rose, an authority on protein nutrition and former president of the ASBMB. The award consists of a plaque, a $3,000 prize and travel expenses to present a lecture at the ASBMB annual meeting in April in Washington, D.C.

Provided by American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

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