II. BRANDEIS SCIENCE AWARD
Waltham, Mass. ---Dr. Barbara McClintock, a world renowned pioneer in genetics, has been named recipient of Brandeis University's seventh annual Rosentiel Award for excellence in scientific research. The selection was announced by an awards committee of distinguished Boston area scientists. The committee praised Dr. McClintock for the "imaginative and important contributions" she has made to the world of science. While she has long been recognized as an influential geneticist, the committee added, Dr. McClintock "has never received the formal recognition and honor due such a remarkable scientist." Presentation of the Rosenstiel Award medallion and its $5,000 prize were made to Dr. McClintock at a dinner April 13, 1978, at Brandeis.
Prof. H. O. Halvorson, director of the Rosenstiel Center, characterized her as "a forerunner in the field of genetics." And her work now is being interpreted at the molecular level--"trying to understand the DNA at the level of individual molecules." "She was one of the few biologists who took part in the early and truly exciting period of genetic studies," he said. "Using maize, she began to understand the mechanics of chromosome separation and segregation. She showed that you could get breaks in chromosomes and that chromosome pieces would re-assort themselves. If you were to separate a piece of chromosome number one, that piece might attach itself to, say, chromosome number three. The attachment might occur in a logical, correct direction, or it might occur in a backwards fashion--head to tail. And sometimes, the chromosome piece would be turned around and be put back on its original source. This is called inversion."
Dr. McClintock demonstrated that when pieces of chromosomes were moved, it affected the way in which genetic inheritance developed. She also realized that during such rearrangement, chromosomes acquired changing control properties and that they are regulated differently by virtue of their attachment to a new chromosome.
Now, much of her work is being interpreted at the molecular level. "Since we know that genes on chromosomes move around, and that there are rules that govern this movement, science is just beginning to understand how a gene in one place ends up on another chromosome, and how it acquires different kinds of properties of expression." Dr. McClintock first observed this movement and the associated control properties. Today, scientists who are "looking at very fine point genetics" are beginning to rediscover the ability of genes to move around. Science is only beginning to grasp the biochemistry of this, but Dr. McClintock's definition is "now being reinvestigated as the molecular biologist examines more complex problems."
Dr. McClintock, a native of Hartford, Conn., has been associated with the Genetics Research Unit at Cold Spring Harbor since 1941. In 1967, she was named a Distinguished Service Member of that organization. She studied at Cornell University for her bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees, the last awarded in 1927. From 1965 to 1975, she was the Andrew White Professor at Cornell. She holds numerous awards and honorary degrees, and is widely published in many scientific journals. In 1970, she was awarded the National Medal of Science, and earlier won the Kimber Genetics Award of the National Academy of Sciences, among other honors. Besides Cornell, she has taught at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Missouri. She is also a member of several distinguished societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The Rosenstiel Award program was founded in 1971. It honors the late Lewis S. Rosenstiel of Miami Beach, who was responsible for creation of the Rosenstiel Center at Brandeis. The annual prizes are given to scientists as a means "to identify important work in basic medical research." Since its inception, the program has earned a wide reputation for acknowledging significant scientific developments.
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