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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

2018 Scholastic Awards 

The winners of the 2018 Scholastic Awards in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology were recently announced. These awards recognize past pioneers of our Department, and are made possible because of the generosity of the BMB faculty and, importantly, of the family of the late John Scocca, who retired in 2008 after over 40 years of dedicated service on the faculty. 

John Scocca Award

graceThe John Scocca Scholastic Award is presented to Dr. Grace Hwang. This award recognizes excellence in laboratory research on the part of a PhD graduate student. This year’s recipient, Grace Hwang, is a member of Dr. Philip Jordan’s laboratory. Grace determined the novel roles for the structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) complex, SMC5/6, during meiosis. Using mutant mouse models, Grace demonstrated that the SMC5/6 complex is required to maintain chromosome integrity, ensuring they segregate during meiotic divisions. There is a direct correlation between women’s age and increased incidence of chromosome missegregation. Grace obtained evidence to suggest that reduction of SMC5/6 levels in aging oocytes is linked with increased chromosome segregation errors. This important work was published last year in Development.

Lawrence Grossman Award

angeliqueThe Larry Grossman Scholastic Award is presented to Dr. Angelique Besold. This award given in recognition of excellence in research on the part of a postdoctoral fellow was awarded to Dr. Besold, a member of Dr. Val Culotta’s laboratory. Angelique’s work focuses on nutritional immunity, a process where the host attempts to starve microbial pathogens of metal nutrients such as zinc and copper.  Successful pathogens can evade this attack of the host using potent metal acquisition systems. Angelique has been investigating this tug-of-war for metals between the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans and its animal host.  Her discoveries were recently published in Infection and Immunity and received a spotlight from the editors as an Article of Significant Interest for the Feb 2018 issue.

Sharon Krag Award

justinThe Sharon Krag Scholastic Award is presented to Justin Jacob. This award is given in recognition of outstanding and impactful leadership on the part of a PhD graduate student or postdoctoral fellow and has this year been awarded to Mr. Jacob, a PhD candidate in Dr. Pierre Coulombe’s laboratory. Throughout his tenure as a graduate student, Mr. Jacob has held a multitude of leadership positions in both the Department and the School. Currently, he serves as the President of the Student Assembly at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Prior to this post, Mr. Jacob has served two additional years on the Executive Board of the Student Assembly, preceded by two years on the Executive Board of the tri-school (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health) Biomedical Scholars Association. Within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mr. Jacob has assisted with organizing weekly journal clubs, the annual departmental scientific retreat, and several other events as part of the department’s Events Committee. He has also helped organize the inaugural Maryland Network of Intermediate Filament Researchers Symposium. Mr. Jacob strives to be a force of positive change and influence to better improve the lives and quality of life of others.

Pierre Coulombe Award

hanaPierre Coulombe Scholastic Award is presented to Hana’ Odeh. Hana’s work in the Matunis lab has focused on understanding the functions and regulation of the SENP2 SUMO protease.  Her work revealed that SENP2 associates with the inner nuclear membrane and with ER and Golgi membranes through an N-terminal amphipathic alpha-helix.  This unexpected finding has opened up new avenues of research focused on exploring previously unrecognized roles for sumoylation at membranes.  Hana will use the award to attend the Gordon Research Conference on Protein Transport Across Membranes in Galveston Texas.

Sincere Congratulations to Grace, Angelique, Justin and Hana' on receiving these very special honors!

Learn MORE about the BMB pioneers after whom these Scholastic Awards are named  — John Scocca, Larry Grossman,  Sharon Krag and Pierre Coulombe.