Caltech Breaks Ground for Broad Center for Biological Sciences

PASADENA—The California Institute of Technology broke ground for the Broad Center for Biological Sciences at noon, September 12, at the site of the future building, at the southeast corner of Wilson Avenue and Lura Street in Pasadena.

Expected to be completed in the year 2002, the Broad Center will be the site of up to a dozen key research groups that will expand Caltech's existing strengths and position the Institute for leadership in a number of critical areas of investigation. Principal funding for the building was provided by a gift of more than $20 million from Edythe and Eli Broad. Eli Broad is chairman and CEO of SunAmerica Inc. and has been a Caltech trustee since 1993.

The Broads' gift is part of a $100 million fund-raising effort for the biological sciences at Caltech.

Speakers at the groundbreaking included David Baltimore, president of Caltech; Broad; Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan; Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard; Gordon Moore, chair of the Caltech Board of Trustees; James Freed, senior partner with Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects; John Rudolph, principal with Rudolph and Sletten, the construction company; and Mel Simon and John Abelson, biology faculty.

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners is known for its work on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art in Athens; the Miho Museum of Shiga, Japan; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland; the Grand Louvre in Paris; and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.

Caltech's Broad Center will be located on the northwest corner of campus, near the Beckman Institute. Measuring 120,000 square feet, with three floors above ground and two below, the building will include laboratories and offices for 10 to 12 research teams, as well as conference rooms, compact libraries, a lecture hall, and a seminar room. The latest modular design elements will be used to allow the greatest flexibility for rearranging labs and offices to accommodate future needs at minimum cost. The square modern design is intended to maximize scientific interaction within.

The building will contain several major research facilities including an imaging center and a biomolecular structures laboratory.

A mall covered by red Chinese pistache trees will line one side of the building. The exterior walls of the building will be travertine on the south-facing wall adjacent to the Beckman Institute, and etched stainless steel on the other walls.

Founded in 1891, Caltech has an enrollment of some 2,000 students, and a faculty of about 275 professorial members and 130 research members. The Institute has more than 19,000 alumni. Caltech employs a staff of more than 2,100 on campus and 4,800 at JPL.

Over the years, 28 Nobel Prizes and four Crafoord Prizes have been awarded to faculty members and alumni. Forty-five Caltech faculty members and alumni have received the National Medal of Science; and eight alumni (two of whom are also trustees), two additional trustees, and one faculty member have won the National Medal of Technology. Since 1958, 13 faculty members have received the annual California Scientist of the Year award. On the Caltech faculty there are 77 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the faculty and Board of Trustees, 70 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 48 members of the National Academy of Engineering.

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Caltech Faculty Member Receives McKnight Award

Pasadena, Calif.--Gilles Laurent, associate professor of biology and computational and neural systems at the California Institute of Technology, has received the McKnight Investigator Award for his work in "Memory in Olfactory Network Dynamics." This award, granted by the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, is given to stimulate research in neuroscience as it pertains to memory and, ultimately, to a clearer understanding of diseases affecting memory. Laurent is one of five scientists to have received the award nationally. Each McKnight recipient will receive a grant of $150,000 over the next three years to further his or her work in neuroscience.

Laurent is renowned for his work on the "sense of smell," or olfactory processing in the brain. This work may have extensive medical and commercial applications. Laurent earned a PhD from the University of Toulouse (France), and a DVM from the National School of Veterinary Medicine of Toulouse. He has been a member of the faculty at Caltech since 1990.

The McKnight Foundation was established in 1953 by William L. and Maude L. McKnight. Supported through the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, the McKnight Awards programs in neuroscience were established in 1976 to stimulate research in neuroscience, especially as it pertains to memory. The specific purpose of the McKnight Awards program is to identify investigative programs of outstanding quality involving established neuroscientists and to encourage these seasoned investigators to develop new approaches to an understanding of the basic mechanisms of memory and diseases affecting it.

Founded in 1891, Caltech is now ranked as one of the top universities in the country. Over the years, 28 Nobel Prizes and four Crafoord Prizes have been awarded to faculty members and alumni. Forty-five Caltech faculty members and alumni have received the National Medal of Science; and eight alumni (two of whom are also trustees), two additional trustees, and one faculty member have won the National Medal of Technology. Since 1958, 13 faculty members have received the annual California Scientist of the Year award. On the Caltech faculty there are 77 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the faculty and Board of Trustees, 70 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 48 members of the National Academy of Engineering.

Contact: Deborah Williams-Hedges (626) 395-3227 debwms@caltech.edu

Visit the Caltech Media Relations Web site at: http://www.caltech.edu/~media

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Caltech receives $1 million grant for Worm Genome Database

PASADENA—In a major follow-up to the sequencing of the human genome, the National Institutes of Health has awarded $1 million to the California Institute of Technology for a genome database to aid in biomedical research as well as basic biology.

Known as the Worm Genome Database, or simply "WormBase," the project will link the already-completed genome sequence of the experimental organism C. elegans to the functions that the genes perform, says Caltech biology professor Paul Sternberg, leader of the project. Also, the information in WormBase will contribute to advances in understanding how genes of all animals are related so that underlying genetic interactions can perhaps be exploited for future treatments of human disease.

More commonly known as a roundworm or nematode, C. elegans has a genome that comprises about 19,000 genes. As a consequence of evolution, the roundworm shares a huge number of genes with human beings—as do all other organisms on Earth, including plants.

The reason this fundamental relationship will be important to 21st-century medicine is that these commonly shared genes, or homologs, often have the same functions in their respective organisms. In Sternberg's own lab, for example, researchers found that several genes that control what cells do during the development of the worm are worm versions of human genes that mutate to cause cancer.

This finding had two implications, Sternberg says. Genes that work together in the worm are likely to work together in the human, and the normal function of "oncogenes" is to control normal cell behavior, not to cause disease.

Thus, improved knowledge of the roundworm at the molecular level could lead to new and improved approaches for dealing with human disease, or even result in a cure.

And as a side benefit, Sternberg says, knowing the differences between ourselves and a roundworm could lead to new approaches to eradicate the creature, which is an agricultural nuisance.

"I think one of the important things about WormBase is that it will lead to new ways to study basic mechanisms," says Sternberg, adding that the sequencing of several other experimental organisms will be important for the same reason. Among the other organisms are the laboratory mouse, the mustardlike flowering plant Arabidopsis, the fruit fly, and the yeast cell.

"We could see patterns emerge from information in different organisms," Sternberg says. "Now that we have the human genome, we can start asking what a certain gene does in humans, what the homolog does in yeast, or fruit flies, or worms, and what's the common denominator."

WormBase's more immediate goals will be to make the genetic information more computer-accessible to anyone interested, Sternberg says. "The standard of success would be that the bench researcher could get within a minute or two the relevant data for his or her own research, rather than go to the library and pore for hours or days through reading materials."

WormBase will continue an existing database developed by Richard Durbin of the Sanger Centre in the United Kingdom, one of two centers that sequenced the worm genome; Jean Theirry-Mieg, now at the National Center for Biological Information; and Lincoln Stein of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. These researchers will remain involved, Sternberg says, as will John Spieth of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University in St. Louis, the other sequencing center.

The new phase of the work will involve biologists in curating new data, including cell function in development, behavior, and physiology; gene expression at a cellular level, and gene interactions—in much the same manner that the Human Genome Project will continue now that the genome itself has been completely sequenced. The National Human Genome Research Institute, which is funding this project, also supports databases of other intensively studied laboratory organisms.

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Caltech and the Human Genome Project

PASADENA- Two of the key inventions that made possible the monumental task of sequencing the human genome came from the California Institute of Technology. These were especially important in the sequencing of the 3 billion DNA base pairs composing the human genome because the inventions speeded up progress on the task.

The first landmark invention was a method for the automated sequencing of DNA by Leroy Hood, then a professor of biology at Caltech, and his colleagues, Mike Hunkapiller, Tim Hunkapiller, Charles Connell, and Lloyd Smith. Before their discovery, figuring out the sequence of a segment of DNA had been exceedingly difficult and laborious. Because the process was so slow and required the work of highly skilled technicians, it was clear to most scientists in the mid '80s that it would not be possible to sequence entire genomes by manual methods.

The method devised by Hood and his colleagues changed that. They developed a novel chemistry that permitted a machine to detect DNA molecules, using fluorescent light. This method revolutionized DNA sequencing, ultimately making it possible to launch the Human Genome Project. Coupled with some recent advances, the method remained the core for the just-completed phase of sequencing the human genome.

A second key invention for the genome project was developed at Caltech by Professor Melvin Simon, chair of Caltech's biology division, and his coworker Hiroaki Shizuya. They recognized that a critical part of sequencing would be preparing large DNA segments for the process. To accomplish this, they invented "bacterial artificial chromosomes" (BACs), which permit scientists to use bacteria as micromachines to accurately replicate pieces of human DNA that are over 100,000 base pairs in length. These BACs provided the major input DNA for both the public genome project and Celera.

The Simon research group was also a major contributor to the mapping and sequencing of chromosome 22-a substantial segment of the human genome, which was completed in 1999. These researchers are presently using genomic information to create an "onco-chip," which will give researchers convenient experimental access to a miniature array containing hundreds of BACs, each carrying a gene whose mutation can cause human cancer.

Caltech researchers, both current and past, have also been important in promoting the Human Genome Project itself-a project that originally met with scientific skepticism when it was born 12 years ago, particularly when the goal of a fully sequenced human genome by the year 2003 was announced.

That skepticism has long since been replaced by wholesale enthusiasm from the scientific community. David Baltimore, president of Caltech and a Nobel laureate for his work on the genes of viruses, was a highly influential supporter of the Human Genome Project at its inception. Baltimore, then a professor of biology at MIT, was one of an international cadre of farsighted biologists that also included Hood and Simon. They shared a vision of the future in which knowledge of every gene that composes the human genome would be available to any scientist in the world at the click of a computer key.

To shape this unprecedented and complex project, Caltech professors Norman Davidson, Barbara Wold, and Steve Koonin have served in national scientific advisory roles to the genome project in the intervening years. Also, Baltimore chaired the National Institutes of Health (NIH) meeting where the human genome project was launched.

Koonin, who is Caltech's provost, was chair of the JASON study of 1997, which noted to the scientific community that quality standards could be relaxed so that a "rough draft" of the human genome could be made years earlier and still be of great utility. This, in fact, was the approach that prevailed.

The Human Genome Project is unique among scientific projects for having set aside, from the beginning, research support for studies of the ethical, legal, and social implications of the new knowledge of human genes that would result. In Caltech's Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Daniel Kevles has examined these ethical issues in his book The Code of Codes: Scientific and Social Issues in the Human Genome Project, which he coedited in 1992 with Leroy Hood.

Caltech scientists are also actively engaged in the future of genomics, which is the use of the newly obtained DNA sequences to discover and understand the function of genes in normal biology and in disease and disease susceptibility. This includes devising new ways to extract and manipulate information from the human genome sequence and from recently completed genome sequences of important experimental organisms used by scientists in the laboratory, such as the fruit fly, mustard weed, and yeast.

In one new project, Caltech recently became the home site for the international genome database for a key experimental organism called C. elegans, under the direction of Caltech Professor Paul Sternberg. This tiny worm has about 19,000 different genes, many of which correspond to related genes in humans. The shared origin and functional relationships between the genes of worm and man (and fruit fly and all other animals) let scientists learn much about how human genes work, by studying these small creatures in the laboratory.

The Worm Genome Database, called Wormbase, is undertaking the major task of collecting and making computer-accessible key information about every worm gene, its DNA sequence, and what its function is in the animal. This will require that new methods in automated data-mining and computing be brought together and fused with expert knowledge in biology, and then made accessible by computer to anyone interested.

Because of the relatedness of many genes and their functions among all animals, this information about the worm and its genome will be important for understanding human genes, and vice versa.

Another major genomics effort at Caltech is aimed at understanding how groups of genes work to direct development from a fertilized egg to an adult organism, and how these groups of genes change their action or fail in aging, cancer, or degenerative disease. The genomics approach to these problems involves the application of new computational methods and automated experimental technologies.

To do this, Barbara Wold, together with Mel Simon, Professor Stephen Quake from Caltech's Division of Engineering and Applied Science, and Dr. Eric Mjolsness of the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, have established the L. K. Whittier/Caltech Gene Expression Center, funded by the Whittier Foundation. The new work in genomics is also fueling new interdisciplinary programs at Caltech in the computational modeling of cells and organisms.

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Caltech appoints Elliot Meyerowitz to head Division of Biology

PASADENA—Elliot Meyerowitz, a specialist in the genetics of flowering plants, has been named chair of the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology. The announcement was made by Steven Koonin, vice president and provost.

Meyerowitz replaces Mel Simon, who is returning to full-time faculty and research duties after serving five years in the office. The appointment becomes effective July 1, and has been approved by the Caltech Board of Trustees.

"A faculty search committee strongly recommended that Elliot Meyerowitz succeed Mel Simon," Koonin said on announcing the appointment. "Elliot is widely respected for his intellect and scientific accomplishments and his demonstrated administrative ability as Executive Officer for Biology.

"The Institute is very fortunate that someone of his caliber has agreed to assume administrative responsibilities," Koonin said.

Meyerowitz, a professor of and current executive officer for biology, has been a member of the Caltech faculty since 1980. His primary research interest is the genes that control the formation of flowers, and how altering these genes will affect flower development. He has identified mutations that cause petal cells to develop into stamens instead, and another mutation that causes these same embryonic petals to become sepals.

Meyerowitz earned his bachelor's degree in biology, summa cum laude, at Columbia University in 1973, and his doctorate at Yale University in 1977. He received the John S. Nicholas Award for Outstanding Biology Dissertation from Yale for his doctoral research. Following a postdoctoral appointment at Stanford, he joined the Caltech faculty as an assistant professor, and was appointed full professor in 1989.

Among his awards is the 1996 "Science pour l'Art" Science Prize, for which he was corecipient, and which was presented in Paris by the firm LVMH—Moët HennessyoLouis Vuitton. The award is presented annually to researchers whose science is of aesthetic and artistic merit.

Meyerowitz also won the Genetics Society of America Medal in 1996, the Gibbs Medal from the American Society of Plant Physiologists in 1995, and the Pelton Award from the Botanical Society of America and the Conservation Research Foundation in 1994.

He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1991, and the American Philosophical Society in 1998. He was winner of the Richard Lounsbery Award of the National Academy of Sciences in 1999, and received a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship in 1981.

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Parsons Foundation Grants Caltech $2 Million

For Immediate Release

The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation has awarded the California Institute of Technology a $2 million grant to be used over three years to purchase scientific computer equipment for the Biomolecular Structures Laboratory at Caltech.

"This equipment is absolutely essential to put Caltech in a position to lead the field of protein design, which has great promise for applications to medical research," said Caltech president David Baltimore.

The computational biology hardware will be used by scientists like Stephen Mayo, associate professor of biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute assistant investigator. They will use it to study protein structure, function, and design. "It's phenomenal," said Mayo. "Computational biology is a new and rapidly emerging area and this will be very high end, high performance computer hardware. It will be one of the most significant computing facilities at Caltech."

The equipment will provide a means for studying biotechnology materials that could be used in human therapeutics, industrial biotechnology, and agriculture. It will be housed in the Broad Center for Biological Sciences, a structure that, when completed in 2002, will provide space for 10 new Caltech research groups that will work at the cutting edge of the biological sciences.

Caltech kicked off the Biological Sciences Initiative in 1998, to raise $100 million for new faculty and resources. The Parsons Foundation gift is the first to address one of the key objectives of the Initiative, providing equipment for state-of-the-art instrumentation facilities that scientists in the Broad Center will share with others on campus.

Caltech has a history of discovery in the biological sciences, with six Nobel Prizes in medically related fields. Thomas Hunt Morgan, who founded the Division of Biology at Caltech in 1928, won the Nobel Prize for identifying the gene as a specific entity with a fixed location on a chromosome. His Nobel was followed by prizes for George Beadle, Max Delbrück, Renato Dulbecco, Roger Sperry, and Edward Lewis, who, in 1995, received the Nobel for his decades of work on how genes control development. Baltimore received a Nobel Prize at the age of 37 for his work in virology.

The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation was established in 1961 by the late Ralph M. Parsons, founder of the international engineering and construction firm that bears his name. The foundation, since 1974 a separate, free-standing, charitable organization independent of the corporation, awards grants focusing on the areas of higher education, social-impact programs, health, and civic and cultural endeavors.

Contact: Jill Perry (626) 395-3226 jperry@caltech.edu

Visit the Caltech Media Relations Web site at: http://www.caltech.edu/~media

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Caltech president David Baltimore named winner of 1999 National Medal of Science

PASADENA-David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology, has been named by President Clinton as a recipient of the 1999 National Medal of Science. The award was announced today (Monday, January 31) at the White House.

One of the world's leading scientists, Baltimore was cited for his Nobel Prize-winning work showing that the flow of biological information is reversed, allowing cancer-inducing viruses to become genes in cells. Baltimore was also recognized for his leadership in academic and public policy. He joins 11 others this year as winners of America's most prestigious science honor.

Prior to his appointment as Caltech president in 1997, Baltimore was a faculty member at MIT and was founding director of MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He served as director from the institute's creation in 1982, to 1990, when he became president of Rockefeller University.

He played a pivotal role with Paul Berg, Maxine Singer, and several other eminent biologists in the mid-1970s in creating a consensus on national science policy regarding recombinant DNA research. This nationwide effort helped allay reservations about genetics research, and also established research standards that are followed by the genetics community to this day.

Baltimore has also been a major figure in Washington as head of the National Institutes of Health AIDS Vaccine Research Committee, and in 1986 he was co-chair of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine's committee on a National Strategy for AIDS.

Born in New York City in 1938, Baltimore earned his undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College and his doctorate at Rockefeller University. He did postdoctoral work at MIT, and later worked as a research associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1965 to 1968.

He was a professor at Rockefeller University from 1990 to 1994, and Rockefeller's president in 1990 and 1991. He resigned the Rockefeller presidency in 1991 during a heated controversy that stemmed from his support of a collaborator who had been accused of scientific misconduct but whose scientific honesty he had resolutely defended. Years later, the collaborator was found to be innocent of all charges raised against her.

His honors include the 1970 Gustave Stern Award in Virology; the 1971 Eli Lilly and Co. Award in Microbiology and Immunology; the 1974 National Academy of Sciences' United States Steel Award in Molecular Biology; and the 1975 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

He was named to the National Academy of Sciences in 1974, and in 1978 was elected a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a foreign member of the Royal Society in England, and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

He is married to Dr. Alice Huang, former dean for science at New York University, senior councilor for external relations at Caltech, and also an eminent biologist. The Baltimores have a daughter, Lauren, a Yale University graduate who lives and works in New York City.

 

 

 

 

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The potential of stem cells to be the focus of 2000 Biology Forum

PASADENA-Stem cells and their promise for novel treatments of human disease will be the focus of the 2000 Biology Forum at the California Institute of Technology.

"Stem Cells: The Science of Regeneration" will be held at 8 p.m. Thursday, February 24, in Caltech's Beckman Auditorium. Free and open to the public, the forum is sponsored by Caltech and cosponsored by the San Gabriel Newspaper Group and Huntington Memorial Hospital. The event will focus particularly on breakthroughs of the last year in stem cell research.

Voted as the No. 1 science story of the year by the journal Science, stem cell research is thought to be especially promising because the cells themselves are immature and undifferentiated and can become specific kinds of cells in different kinds of tissue. Thus, the hope is that stem cells can be harvested and coerced to form differentiated cells to replace defective or absent cells in a variety of human organs, from the brain to the heart.

Stem cell research has been controversial in the past because the most obvious source of cells was harvested fetal tissue. But according to Science, research of the past year has shown that "stem cells from adults retain the youthful ability to become several different kinds of tissues."

"Brain cells can become blood cells, and cells from bone marrow can become liver," according to the journal. "Thus, 1999 marks a turning point for this young field, as both science and society recognized-and wrestled with-our newfound power to manipulate a cell's destiny."

The Caltech forum speakers will address the various kinds of stem cells that have been used to generate heart, bone, fat, liver, muscle, and brain cell types, as well as possible future protocols for the testing of new drugs. Also, the speakers will address how stem cell research can shed light on one of the great puzzles of biology: how a single cell, the egg, gives rise to the thousands of different cell types in the adult organism.

The forum will be moderated by Robert Lee Hotz, award-winning science writer at the Los Angeles Times and author of several books on biological topics.

Panelists will be David Anderson, a Caltech professor of biology and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Jeremy Brockes, a professor of biology at University College, London; Alexander M. Capron, a law professor at the University of Southern California; and Barbara Wold, a professor of biology at Caltech.

For more information, please call (626) 395-4652 or (800) 423-8849. Persons with disabilities may make arrangements by calling (626) 395-4688 (voice) or (626) 395-3700 (TDD).

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David Baltimore and Seymour Benzer awarded honorary degrees from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

PASADENA—David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology, and Seymour Benzer, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Emeritus, were awarded honorary degrees by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Watson School of Biological Sciences on November 5 at the school's inaugural convocation.

Since his initial contact with CSHL as a member of the first class of the lab's Undergraduate Research Program, Baltimore has maintained close ties with the lab. "I returned at least once every year for the next 20 years, either for a seminar, a symposium, or a course. In fact, I got my start in virology at the CSHL Animal Virus Course in 1961, and my start in immunology at the CSHL Symposium in 1976." Baltimore has been president of Caltech since October 1997. Before coming to Caltech, he was an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was founding director of MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and served from 1982, the year of the institute's creation, to 1990, when he became president of Rockefeller University. His career has been distinguished by his dual contribution to biological research and to national science policy.

Baltimore helped pioneer the molecular study of animal viruses, and his research in this field had profound implications for understanding cancer and, later, AIDS. In 1975, he shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Howard Temin and Renato Dulbecco.

Baltimore has been a major figure in Washington as head of the National Institutes of Health AIDS Vaccine Research Committee, and also in 1986 as co-chair of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine's committee on a National Strategy for AIDS. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Society of London.

After attending a course on bacteriophage genetics at CSHL in the summer of 1948, Benzer, whose early interest was in physics, subsequently changed fields and became a preeminent molecular biologist. He initially worked in phage genetics and, since 1960, has worked in nervous system development and behavioral genetics of the fruit fly Drosophila.

Benzer received his BA in 1942 from Brooklyn College and a PhD from Purdue University in 1947. Before joining the Caltech faculty in 1965, he had been the Stuart Distinguished Professor of Biophysics at Purdue University. Benzer has won numerous other awards while on the faculty at Caltech, including the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, nonprofit research and educational institution with programs focusing on cancer, neurobiology, and plant biology. Its other areas of research expertise include molecular and cellular biology, genetics, structural biology, and bioinformatics. CSHL is located in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

Founded in 1891, Caltech has an enrollment of some 2,000 students, and an academic staff of about 280 professorial faculty and 130 research faculty. The Institute has more than 19,000 alumni. Caltech employs a staff of more than 1,700 on campus and 5,300 at JPL.

Over the years, 28 Nobel Prizes and four Crafoord Prizes have been awarded to faculty members and alumni, including the Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to Professor Ahmed Zewail in October. Forty-four Caltech faculty members and alumni have received the National Medal of Science; and eight alumni (two of whom are also trustees), two additional trustees, and one faculty member have won the National Medal of Technology. Since 1958, 13 faculty members have received the annual California Scientist of the Year award. On the Caltech faculty there are 77 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the faculty and Board of Trustees, 69 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 48 members of the National Academy of Engineering.

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Caltech Receives $10 Million to Establish Bren Professors Endowment

PASADENA-The Donald Bren Foundation of Newport Beach has awarded the California Institute of Technology a $10 million grant to establish named professorships to support Caltech's ambitious Biological Sciences Initiative.

The Bren Professors Endowment will provide support for scholarly activities in biology and related disciplines, which are focused on solving some of the toughest problems of the life sciences. This gift brings the Biological Sciences Initiative total to over $80 million. A three-year fundraising effort announced in May 1998, the Initiative aims to provide essential resources and people to explore new territory in the biological sciences through the kind of interdisciplinary approach at which Caltech excels.

"Caltech's focus on biological sciences will open a new area for its scholarly inquiry and research that promises endless possibilities to profoundly touch and improve our lives," said Bren, the chairman of The Irvine Company. "It pleases me to be able to encourage this initiative and the distinguished scholars who will carry it out."

The named professorship is the highest honor a university can confer upon a faculty member. It is a tool to recognize and reward achievements and for recruiting senior faculty to join a new institution. Ultimately, five senior faculty will be named new Bren Professors, joining Peter Dervan who holds the first Bren Professorship established at Caltech in 1988.

Initially, a portion of the $10 million grant will be used to establish the Bren Scholars Program, which will support new faculty identified by Caltech as scientific stars before they are recognized in the scientific community at large. The Bren Scholars Program will fund the expenses associated with initiating their research programs for a period of six years, thus launching them on a lifelong career, and maximizing their contributions to science and engineering. After six years, the endowment for the Bren Scholars Program will be added to the Bren Professors Endowment.

The Bren Foundation grant is being made in memory of Earle Jorgensen, Bren's stepfather, who died this August at the age of 101. He was a self-made Southern California steel pioneer, whose products fortified the area's economic boom and whose commitment to community included support for Ronald Reagan's campaigns for governor of California and president. He also served as a member of Reagan's "kitchen cabinet." Jorgensen was a Caltech trustee from 1957 to 1999.

"Earle's life spanned the 20th Century, and for 42 years, he brought his special energy, optimism, curiosity, and interest in science and engineering to the Caltech board - attending his last meeting as a Life Trustee after he had turned 100," said Bren who has been a Caltech trustee since 1983.

Caltech President David Baltimore said the grant will help Caltech reach its goals. "I think Don has focused his giving on the most important aspect of Caltech, which is the quality of our faculty," Baltimore said. "Bringing the very best people here is at the heart of Caltech's mission."

The Bren Foundation is a private philanthropic organization chartered by Donald Bren, the chairman of The Irvine Company, to further his lifetime interests in public and private education, scientific research, conservation, and the visual arts.

Since 1988, Bren's higher education philanthropy is making possible, over time, the creation of at least 20 endowed chairs that are being filled at U.C. Irvine, U.C. Santa Barbara, Caltech and Chapman University.

Founded in 1891, Caltech has an enrollment of some 2,000 students, and an academic staff of about 280 professorial faculty and 130 research faculty. The Institute has more than 19,000 alumni. Caltech employs a staff of more than 1,700 on campus and 5,300 at JPL.

Over the years, 28 Nobel Prizes and four Crafoord Prizes have been awarded to faculty members and alumni, including the Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to Professor Ahmed Zewail earlier this month. Forty-four Caltech faculty members and alumni have received the National Medal of Science; and eight alumni (two of whom are also trustees), two additional trustees, and one faculty member have won the National Medal of Technology. Since 1958, 13 faculty members have received the annual California Scientist of the Year award. On the Caltech faculty there are 77 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the faculty and Board of Trustees, 69 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 49 members of the National Academy of Engineering.

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