Tenth Annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences Awarded to Dr. Lily Jan and Dr. Yuh Nung Jan
Deborah E. Wiley, Chairman of The Wiley Foundation, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JWa & JWb), announced today that the tenth annual Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences will be awarded to Dr. Lily Jan and Dr. Yuh Nung Jan of Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. Both are also Jack and DeLoris Lange Professors at the University of California, San Francisco.
"The Wiley Prize is being awarded to Dr. Lily Jan and Dr. Yuh Nung Jan for their molecular identification of a founding member of a family of potassium ion channels that control nerve cell activity throughout the animal kingdom," said Dr. Günter Blobel, Chairman of the awards jury for the Wiley Prize.
Potassium channels serve as the gatekeepers of the cell membrane, admitting millions of potassium ions each second while intercepting all but one smaller sodium ion for every 1,000 potassium ions. It is this calculated flow of ions through the cell membrane that sends electrical impulses from the brain to specific destinations in the body, controlling functions such as the rate of the heartbeat and the movement of muscles. Potassium channel activities in other organs control the release of insulin and the flow of blood.
Dr. Blobel pointed out that "In recent years, scientists have linked malfunctions of potassium channels to epilepsy, heart arrhythmias, deafness, and other diseases."
Lily and Yuh Nung Jan's continuing work on the development and function of the nervous system hopes to answer questions that have long intrigued scientists, such as: How do different types of neuron acquire their distinct morphology? How does a potassium channel alter its activity in response to electrical and chemical signals? How do potassium channels contribute to signaling and plasticity in the brain?
The Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences recognizes contributions that have opened new fields of research or have advanced novel concepts or their applications in a particular biomedical discipline. It honors a specific contribution or a series of contributions that demonstrate significant leadership and innovation. The award will be presented to Dr. Lily Jan and Dr. Yuh Nung Jan on April 8 at The Rockefeller University in New York City.
Dr. Blobel, a John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Professor of Cell Biology at The Rockefeller University, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1999. The Wiley Prize awards jury also includes Dr. Qais Al-Awqati, a physiologist at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons; Dr. David J. Anderson, a developmental neurobiologist at the California Institute of Technology; Dr. Joan A. Steitz, a molecular biologist at Yale University; and Dr. H. Robert Horvitz, a biologist at MIT and recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
Last year's Wiley Prize recipients were Dr. Peter Hegemann, Dr. Georg Nagel, and Dr. Ernst Bamberg for their discovery of a light activated ion channel. The use of channelrhodopsins has revolutionized the study of networks in the brain.
Among the many distinguished past recipients of the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences, five have also been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Carol Greider, recipients of the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences in 2006, received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. Dr. Andrew Z. Fire and Dr. Craig C. Mello, co-recipients of the Wiley Prize in 2003, received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of RNA interference—gene silencing by double-stranded RNA. Dr. H. Robert Horvitz, a co-recipient of the first Wiley Prize in 2002, shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his respective work on how genes regulate organ development and cell death.
The Wiley Foundation and the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences were established in 2001 to acknowledge the contributions of the scholarly community to the Company's corporate success. Through this award Wiley seeks to recognize and foster ongoing excellence in scientific achievement and discovery.
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