Seven New National Medal Winners

A handful of life science researchers will take home the United States' top science honor.

Sep 29, 2011
Bob Grant

President Barrack Obama awarded 7 National Medals of Science this week to American researchers who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields. Among the honorees are 4 life scientists who have made seminal contributions in various areas of biology, including DNA structure and function, genetics, and biomedical engineering. Obama also named 5 inventors who will receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for contributing to the country's competitiveness. "Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place," Obama said in a statement.

Here are the National Medal of Science winners, who will receive their awards from the president at a White House ceremony to be held later this year:

-        Jacqueline K. Barton, California Institute of Technology, for the discovery of a new property of the DNA helix called long-range electron transfer and for showing that this process, which may aid in the repair of damaged DNA molecules, depends upon the specific arrangement of stacked base pairs and other DNA dynamics.

-        Ralph L. Brinster, University of Pennsylvania, for his fundamental contributions to the development and use of transgenic mice.

-        Shu Chien, University of California, San Diego, for pioneering work in cardiovascular physiology and bioengineering.

-        Rudolf Jaenisch, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for improving our understanding of epigenetic regulation of gene expression.

-        Peter J. Stang, University of Utah, for his contributions to the development of organic supramolecular chemistry, which focuses on weaker and reversible, non-covalent interactions between molecules, and for his record of public service.

-        Richard A. Tapia, Rice University, for his contributions in optimization theory and numerical analysis and for his efforts in mathematics and science education.

-        S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan, New York University, for his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior.

(Hat tip to ScienceInsider.)