Molecular Biologist Bonnie Brassler Named Recipient of Rockefeller Award Recognizing Outstanding Women Scientists

The Rockefeller University has announced that molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler of Princeton University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will receive the 2016 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, an annual award celebrating the achievements of extraordinary women scientists. Dr. Bassler will accept the prize during a ceremony at Rockefeller University on November 16, 2016. Reshma Saujani, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, will present the award. Dr. Bassler is recognized for discoveries related to a molecular mechanism that allows bacteria to communicate with each other. Termed “quorum sensing,” this process involves chemical signaling molecules that enable bacteria to count their cell numbers, collectively regulate gene expression, and synchronize group behaviors. Quorum sensing controls phenomena including bioluminescence, biofilm formation, and virulence. Bassler’s lab is working to develop anti-quorum-sensing molecules, which hold promise as antimicrobial compounds targeting bacteria whose virulence depends on the process. Dr. Bassler is Squibb Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. She is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and has been the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Shaw Prize. The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize was founded in 2004 by Paul Greengard, a Nobel Prize–winning neurobiologist and Vincent Astor Professor and Head of theLaboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at Rockefeller, and his wife, sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard. Dr. Greengard, who shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to understanding nerve cell communication in the brain, has long been an advocate for women in the sciences.
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