In May, Michael B. Snyder, Ph.D., the Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, was awarded the 2007 Connecticut Medal of Science, the state’s highest honor for achievement in science.
The award, given by the Board of Governors for Higher Education of Connecticut, was presented at the annual dinner of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.
“While working at the frontiers of science, Dr. Snyder is an integral part of several educational initiatives to attract more young people into science, particularly those from underrepresented groups,” said Frank W. Ridley, chair of the Board of Governors, when presenting the award. “From his cutting-edge lab research to his popular university courses to teaching kindergarten, Dr. Snyder is dedicated to advancing a broader understanding of science and the joy of pursuing curiosity.”
Snyder, also professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry and director of the Yale Center for Genomics and Proteomics, is best known for his efforts to characterize the genomes of humans and model organisms. He laid the groundwork for the large-scale characterization of genes and gene interactions, and for his ongoing research in functional genomics and systems biology, in which he and colleagues analyze thousands of genes or proteins at once to discover their interrelationships.
Snyder’s early research focused on the mechanisms employed by cells to select directions in which to grow and divide, work that provided insight into how specialized cell types and tissues develop their distinctive shapes and characteristics.
More recently, Snyder’s laboratory was the first in Connecticut to focus on human embryonic stem cells. His team discovered a novel signaling pathway that is essential for embryonic stem cell self-renewal. They then used this information to formulate one of the first media for cell growth that is free of any animal components, a step that is important for the future use of human embryonic stem cells for therapy.
The Connecticut Medal of Science and the Connecticut Medal of Technology were conceived in 1991, when then-Senate majority leader John Larsen introduced a bill to initiate an annual state award “for scholarship achievement in science and technology.” The awards process began in 1993.