Two Yale biologists were among five scientists to win 2006 Gairdner International Awards, among the most prestigious in science. The awards will be presented in October in Toronto.

Joan A. Steitz, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is being honored for her discovery of snRNPs (pronounced “snurps”), complexes of protein and RNA that edit and splice other RNA strands to form messenger RNA, the genetic recipe used by the cell’s protein-making machinery.

Thomas D. Pollard, M.D., chair and Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, is being recognized along with his colleague Alan Hall, Ph.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, for discovering the molecular basis of cellular motility and the mechanism of its regulation. This fundamental knowledge is required to understand embryonic development, defense against infections and the spread of malignant tumors in the body.

Founded in 1959, the Gairdner International Awards recognize achievements in medical science.

In 2004, another Yale scientist received a Gairdner Award. Arthur L. Horwich, M.D., HS ’78, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, was honored for his findings on protein folding and its relevance to neurodegenerative diseases.