Tarun Kapoor, Pels Family Professor and head of the Laboratory of Chemistry and Cell Biology, will receive the 2012 Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award from The Protein Society. The award recognizes Dr. Kapoor’s work combining chemical and biological approaches to dissect mechanisms of cell division. It will be presented jointly to Dr. Kapoor and Mei Hong of Iowa State University in at the Society’s annual symposium in August.
Dr. Kapoor, who holds bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from the California Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University, came to Rockefeller as assistant professor in 2001, following his postdoc at Harvard Medical School. He was named associate professor in 2005 and professor in 2008
The Kapoor lab applies chemical approaches to the study of cell division. Dr. Kapoor’s research is focused on the mitotic spindle, the cellular assembly that guides the movement of chromosomes into their proper positions in preparation for cell division and then equally partitions them into two daughter cells. In addition to studying how the spindle establishes bipolarity, which is required for proper cell division, Dr. Kapoor aims to understand how the cell detects and corrects errors in the process, which are linked to developmental defects, failed pregnancy and cancer. Dr. Kapoor also designs and discovers chemicals that block cell division through new mechanisms. His studies to unravel the functions of Aurora kinase function and the kinesin motor Eg5, chromosome congression, and PRC1 crosslinking of microtubules provide important advances to our knowledge of spindle assembly, microtubule dynamics and fidelity of chromosome segregation.
The award, which is sponsored by Merck Research Laboratories, recognizes a significant contribution to the study of proteins by a scientist who is in the early stages of an independent career and, generally, not more than 40 years of age at the time of the award. Past Rockefeller recipients include John Kuriyan in 1997 and Thomas Muir in 2005.