BER Scientists to receive American Chemical Society National Awards in 2002


Three DOE Biological and Environmental Research (BER) scientists are to receive American Chemical Society (ACS) awards at the ACS National Meeting in Orlando, Florida, April 9, 2002. Dr. Joanna Fowler, a senior chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, will receive the Glen T. Seaborg Award For Nuclear Chemistry. Dr. Roger Y. Tsien, a chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmacology professor at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of California, San Diego, will receive the ACS Award for Creative Invention. Edward S. Yeung of the Ames Laboratory will receive the ACS Award in Chromatography. The awards are announced in the August 27, 2001, issue of Chemical & Engineering News.

Through her pioneering work in radiotracer chemistry research, Dr. Fowler has contributed substantially to the medical applications and clinical use of positron emission tomography (PET) throughout the world. PET, a nuclear medicine imaging technology, provides for non-invasive detection of biochemical transformations and the movement of drugs in the body. Dr. Fowler has contributed key applications of PET radiotracers in understanding the biochemical basis of addictive disorders including nicotine, alcohol, and many illicit drugs. Her research endeavors have been at the forefront of developing many new radiotracers including fluorine-18-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). These radiotracers have now become major scientific and clinical tools for non-invasively imaging glucose metabolism, brain dopamine signaling systems, and the levels of dopamine destructive enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) in the human brain.

Dr. Yeung has been funded by BER for research in gene sequencing instrumentation since early in the Human Genome Program. He currently is studying high throughput techniques for detecting small differences between large DNA fragments. These differences can be due to mutations as simple as a single base being changed or as complex as deletion of long segments from one of the DNA samples being compared. Fast, accurate detection of mutations would enable more reliable determination of the genetic basis of variation of the biology within a population of organisms. Dr. Yeung’s BER research makes use of fundamental advances in analytical chemistry developed by his research group with funding from the Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Dr. Tsien is a recent BER Medical Sciences program grantee. The long-term objectives of Dr. Tsien’s research are to develop general ways to noninvasively image the expression of arbitrarily chosen genes within living organisms, eventually including human patients for medical applications.