Johannes Scheid wins 2012 Weintraub Graduate Student Award

Johannes Scheid, a graduate student in Michel Nussenzweig’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller University, has been named one of this year’s recipients of the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award, administered by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Scheid is one of 13 awardees, all advanced graduate students at or near the completion of their studies in the biological sciences and chosen for the quality, originality and significance of their thesis research.

Scheid’s research is focused on the role of broadly neutralizing antibodies in HIV infection. In his thesis project, Scheid established a method to systematically study the HIV envelope-specific B cell repertoire in patients with broadly neutralizing serum activity. The analysis of several hundred HIV specific monoclonal B cell families revealed a broad diversity of HIV envelope specific antibodies with some rare clones showing a higher potency than any of the previously isolated antibodies. Scheid says the “exceptional potency and breadth of the newly identified antibodies suggest that these reagents might be useful for prevention or treatment in HIV infection.”

Scheid came to Rockefeller as a visiting student in 2006 and joined the David Rockefeller Graduate Program in 2010. After completing his Ph.D., he will return to Germany to complete his medical degree at the Charite in Berlin.

The Weintraub Award was established in 2000 and honors the late Harold M. Weintraub, a founding member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s basic sciences division who died from brain cancer in 1995, at the age of 49. Weintraub was an international leader in the field of molecular biology who, among other contributions, identified genes responsible for cell differentiation. The Hutchinson Center is a research institution dedicated to collaboration between interdisciplinary scientists and humanitarians, with the goal of preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

The award recipients, announced today, will participate in a scientific symposium at the Hutchinson Center in Seattle on May 4th 2012, and will receive an honorarium from the Weintraub and Groudine Fund, established to foster intellectual exchange through the promotion of programs for graduate students, fellows and visiting scholars.

Scheid is the seventh Rockefeller student to receive this prestigious award in the last 10 years.  Past recipients of the award at Rockefeller University include Nadya Dimitrova, 2009 graduate of Titia de Lange’s Laboratory of Cell Biology and Genetics; Sung Hee Ahn-Upton, 2007 graduate of C. David Allis’s Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics; Vanessa Ruta, 2005 graduate of Roderick MacKinnon’s Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics; Paul Cohen, 2003 graduate of Jeffrey M. Friedman’s Laboratory of Molecular Genetics; Karina Del Punta, 2003 graduate of Peter Mombaert’s Laboratory of Developmental Biology and Neurogenetics; and Agata Smogorzewska, 2002 graduate of de Lange’s lab. In addition, a 2011 recipient, Gabriel Victora, was a visiting student in Nussenzweig’s lab, where much of his graduate research was done.

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