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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Achievement Awards for PhD and Postdoctoral Trainees in BMB

PhD doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows are the engines driving laboratory research and discovery in a department like ours.

To recognize and celebrate excellence on the part of our PhD and postdoctoral trainees, the department has instituted four prizes named after four of its past pioneers, John Scocca, Lawrence (Larry) Grossman, Sharon Krag and Pierre Coulombe.

The John Scocca Achievement Award recognizes excellence in laboratory research on the part of a PhD graduate student.

scoccaJohn Scocca – Dr. Scocca joined the department faculty in 1968 and had a storied career until his retirement, as emeritus professor, in 2008. Dr. Scocca’s research on bacterial transformation greatly illuminated the process by which antibiotic resistance is spread between bacterial species. He led many important committees within the Bloomberg School, and was a very dedicated teacher to both doctoral and masters’ students. He is fondly remembered for “guiding” first year PhD students toward giving effective and appropriately short presentations about their laboratory research rotations. Dr. Scocca passed away in 2012.



The Lawrence Grossman Achievement Award recognizes excellence in laboratory research on the part of a postdoctoral fellow.

grossman5Lawrence (Larry) Grossman – Dr. Grossman served as the E.V. McCollum Professor and Chair of the Department between 1975 and 1990. Some of the major contributions that he made include the introduction of DNA repair research and its significance towards establishing cancer risk, the development of a clever molecular epidemiology test to assess, from a blood sample, an individual’s risk of developing UV-induced skin cancer, and the recruitment and mentoring of junior faculty. Dr. Grossman had a special fondness for trainees, and had the wonderful habit of joining them for lunch and discussion in the McCollum library on a frequent basis. Dr. Grossman passed away in 2006.



kragThe Sharon Krag Achievement Award recognizes outstanding and impactful leadership on the part of a PhD graduate student or postdoctoral fellow.

Sharon Krag – Dr. Sharon Krag, a PhD graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, joined the faculty in 1976 and had a profound impact in the department and throughout the School. Dr. Krag served as Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research at our School the time of her retirement in 2007. Dr. Krag's research program was centered on the mechanisms of N-linked (complex) glycosylation and their role in the regulation of protein function. Dr. Krag is (technically!) retired but currently enjoys an emeritus faculty status and still teaches our students about good laboratory practices and ethics in research.


The Pierre Coulombe Travel Award recognizes and outstanding research discovery by PhD graduate student or postdoctoral fellow and provides support to attend and present their work at a scientific conference.  


Pierre Coulombe – Dr. Coulombe served as the E.V. McCollum Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from 2008-2017.  His early research on keratin intermediate filaments revealed their essential roles in mechanical support in vivo and identified mutations in keratin genes as the cause of the human genetic disease, epidermolysis bullosa simplex.  During his time as BMB chair, Dr. Coulombe’s laboratory discovered new roles for keratins in cell signaling and revealed new and unexpected functions in the nucleus.  Dr. Coulombe is recognized for working tirelessly to enhance the educational and training experiences of BMB students and postdoctoral fellows.  This award recognizes his high standards and expectations for excellence, rigor and creativity in scientific research. 


Each award is in the amount of $1500, and is given annually for accomplishments that have come to the fore during that calendar year. Deserving Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellow are nominated by their advisor. Selection of awardees is carried out by a committee of senior BMB faculty.

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is very grateful to the Scocca family, and to its faculty, for making this award program possible through generous donations and support.

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