The Rockefeller University has announced that Lucy Shapiro, professor of developmental biology at Stanford University School of Medicine, will receive the 2014 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize. The annual award, which celebrates the achievements of outstanding women in science, will be presented to Dr. Shapiro on the campus of The Rockefeller University on November 11, 2014.
Nobel Laureate Paul Greengard, who is Vincent Astor Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University, founded the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize in 2003, along with his wife, sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard. Greengard named the Prize in honor of his mother, who died during his birth. Greengard dedicated his Nobel honorarium to provide the seed funding for what he envisioned as a yearly salute to women’s accomplishments in what remains a male-dominated field. Over the past 11 years, a generous group of University donors has joined the Greengards in support of the Prize.
“The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize spotlights the extraordinary role women play in the sciences,” says Greengard. “By highlighting the work of today’s most accomplished female researchers, we hope to show young women that not only is it possible to succeed in the STEM fields, it’s possible to change the way we see the world. Dr. Shapiro’s work is exemplary of that premise.”
Shapiro is a pioneering developmental biologist whose work on the single-celled Caulobactor bacterium illuminated the mechanisms that control the differentiation of cells in all living things, from the simplest organisms to the most complex. Her discoveries led to an understanding of how DNA, which exists in a linear dimension, is translated into organisms that exist in three dimensions. Shapiro has garnered many accolades for her work, including the National Medal of Science, presented by President Obama in 2013.
“It is a great honor to receive an award that recognizes the contributions of women in science and highlights our presence in the wonderful journey of scientific discovery,” Shapiro says. “All science, now more than ever, is a collaborative effort and through the years I have shared the rich experience of gleaning scientific insights with a cadre of women and men of amazing abilities.”
Presenting this year’s Prize is British entrepreneur and philanthropist Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley. Dame Stephanie was one of the first female computer programmers, and the first to take the profession freelance in the 1960s. She founded her own computer software company in 1962, overturning paradigms in the engineering field by hiring almost exclusively women, many of whom worked from home while juggling the demands of family. She is the founder of the Shirley Foundation, which mainly supports autism research, as well as the study of Internet policy and function.
Winners of the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, which carries a $100,000 honorarium, are selected by a committee of ten extraordinary scientists, five of them winners of the Nobel Prize. Among the ten previous winners of the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, two have subsequently become Nobel Laureates — Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider — and another, Mary-Claire King, is the recipient of a 2014 Lasker Award.
The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize ceremony is open to the public, but registration is required.