November 3, 2005
Vol. 25 No. 4

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    Elliot Gershon, Foundations Fund Professor in Psychiatry and Human Genetics, will receive the Anna-Monika Prize, awarded once every two years by the Anna-Monika Foundation, for his research on the role of genetics in bipolar disorder.

    Gershon will travel to Berlin, Germany, to receive the 25,000-Euro prize (approximately $30,000) and to lecture on his genetic research. The privately funded Anna-Monika Foundation Prize, established in 1964 with aid from the West German government, promotes experimental research on the causes of depression.

    In 2003, Gershon and his team of researchers published a landmark paper on the genetics of bipolar disorder, tracing increased susceptibility to this disease to two overlapping genes found on the long arm of chromosome 13. The study was the first to implicate this gene complex, and the second to tie any gene to the development of bipolar disorder, which affects 2 million American adults. Since this report, there have been two published replications.

    “The discovery of susceptibility genes for psychiatric disorders has been one of the most intractable problems in human genetics,” said Gershon. “In the past few years, we seem to have reached a watershed for psychiatric gene discovery. After years of false starts and unfulfilled promises, we have begun to make real progress.”

    Multiple genes, each contributing a small part, cause bipolar disorder. The bipolar gene on chromosome 13 has a “weak effect,” said Gershon, increasing susceptibility to the disease by about 25 percent.

    The Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of the Sciences and Humanities, has elected Jack Halpern as a 2005 foreign fellow.

    Election to the society is the highest honor that scholars, artists and scientists in Canada can attain. This year’s 60 new fellows and three foreign fellows will be inducted into the society in a ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 27.

    The society cited Halpern, the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Chemistry, for his pioneering studies of catalytic chemical reactions promoted by organometallic compounds. These compounds, consisting of carbon and a metal, are useful for accelerating the rate of chemical reactions, a process called catalysis.

    “He has nurtured the field of catalysis by inorganic and organometallic processes and organometallic reactions from its infancy to its present state of maturity an importance,” according to the citation. “Along the way, Professor Halpern has touched on nearly every aspect of these subjects and has made seminal experimental and conceptual contributions that continue to be the basis of our understanding of these important areas of chemistry.”

    In recognition of his excellence as a medical student and outstanding promise for a future career in medicine, Aaron Horne Jr. of the University’s Pritzker School of Medicine has been named an American Medical Association Foundation Minority Scholar. The award, given to only 10 medical students in the country, includes a $10,000 scholarship.

    A resident of Chicago, Horne is a second-year medical student. He received an A.B. from Chicago in 1998, and will receive an M.B.A. along with his medical degree. Horne served as president of the Student National Medical Association, as well as president of the American Medical Student Association chapter at Chicago. He also heads the DuSable Conference Committee of the African American M.B.A. Association at the University.

    The minority scholar award recognizes scholastic achievement and promise for the future among students in groups defined as “historically underrepresented” in the medical profession. Less than 7 percent of U.S. physicians fall within these groups, which include African American, Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native and Hispanic.

    “We are pleased to recognize the outstanding achievements of Aaron Horne and to provide him with substantial financial assistance,” said AMA Foundation president Linda Ford. “The AMA Foundation is committed to introducing more minorities into the medical profession in order to better reflect the needs of our diverse society. We must do all we can to ensure that the cost of medical education remains within reach of our most talented students.”

    Rustem Ismagilov, Associate Professor in Chemistry, has received a 2005 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation of New York City.

    The Dreyfus Foundation established the Teacher-Scholar Awards in 1969 to support the teaching and research careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. As one of 16 recipients of the award nationwide, Ismagilov will receive $75,000 in unrestricted research funds over the next five years.

    Ismagilov plans to use the funds to support undergraduate research in complex chemical and biochemical reaction networks using microfluids. Students in Ismagilov’s laboratory will precisely control the flow and mixing of microfluids in channels thinner than a human hair.

    At the annual meeting of the American Statistical Association in August, Albert Madansky, the H.G.B. Alexander Professor Emeritus in the Graduate School of Business, received the organization’s Founders Award. Madansky was honored for “a half century of outstanding achievement in developing statistical methods and applications in business administration, working in both academia and industry; and for devoted service to the American Statistical Association in a number of capacities, including editor and most recently as ASA treasurer.”