Rockefeller postdoc wins GE & Science Prize

Michael Crickmore, a Rockefeller University postdoctoral fellow in Leslie B. Vosshall’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, is Grand Prize winner in the 2009 GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists, an essay competition established and administered by GE Healthcare, Science magazine and its publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Crickmore’s winning entry, on the molecular mechanisms that underlie size differences in the fore- and hindwings of the fruit fly, was published in the December 4 issue of Science. The Prize comes with $25,000.

Crickmore’s essay, titled “The Molecular Basis of Size Differences,” details research he performed as a doctoral student in the Columbia University laboratory of biochemist Richard Mann. Crickmore’s focus at Columbia was on how otherwise similar structures — such as our fingers, toes and ribs — develop to different sizes. Using Drosophila melanogaster as a model, Crickmore examined the fly’s large forewing and smaller hindwing and showed that the production and mobility of a growth-promoting chemical known as Decapentaplegic are significantly different in the two wings, directly affecting the sizes of the two tissues. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2007, Crickmore came to Rockefeller, where he currently focuses on the genetic underpinnings of size control. He is also the recipient of a 2009 Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship and a 2007 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award.

Since its establishment in 1995, the prize has recognized outstanding graduate students in the field of molecular biology. Each year the grand prize winner receives $25,000 and runners-up receive $5,000 each. Past Rockefeller winners include Wenying Shou, a former postdoctoral fellow in Stanislas Leibler’s Laboratory of Living Matter, in 2002, and Matthew L. Albert, a former graduate student in Robert B. Darnell’s Laboratory of Molecular Neuro-oncology and Ralph M. Steinman’s Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology and later a clinical scholar in the Darnell lab, in 2001.

Science 326(5958): 1360-1361 (December 4, 2009)
The Molecular Basis of Size Differences
Michael A. Crickmore
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