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Scientist is doubly honored for protein-folding breakthroughs

Medicine@Yale, 2009 - Jan Feb


Last October marked a month to remember for the School of Medicine’s Arthur L. Horwich, M.D., Sterling Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics. Over the course of two days, Horwich was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and named a winner of the 2008 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize by Columbia University for his outstanding contributions in biology and biochemistry.

Arthur Horwich Horwich, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is one of the world’s leading experts on the molecular mechanisms of protein folding, a process crucial to life. When proteins misfold, they can accumulate inside cells and cause illness. More than 20 diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), have been linked to protein misfolding.

Horwich was one of 65 people chosen for their exceptional achievement in health and medicine for election to the IOM, an organization that is unique in its combined honorific and advisory roles. Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the IOM is a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on human health issues.

First awarded in 1967, the Horwitz Prize is one of the top prizes in biomedical science; about half the Horwitz recipients have gone on to win a Nobel Prize. This year’s award was shared by Horwich, Franz-Ulrich Hartl, M.D., Dr.Med., of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany, an early collaborator on Horwich’s research, and the late Rosalind Franklin, Ph.D., honored posthumously for her X-ray crystallography work in the early 1950s, which was instrumental in the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Horwich was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2003, and has been a member of the medical school faculty since 1984. He holds undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University and completed his residency in pediatrics at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

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