Sulfurous chemical known as ‘smell of the sea’ serves as clarion call for coral pathogens.
JoAnne Stubbe, a biochemist noted for her work in understanding the mechanism of enzymes and natural products that bind to and cleave DNA molecules, and David E. Housman, a molecular biologist who has made significant contributions toward understanding human genetic diseases, have been selected as the next holders of the Ciba-Geigy Professorships.
Dr. Stubbe, the Ciba-Geigy Professor of Chemistry, holds joint academic appointments in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biology. Dr. Housman, the Ciba-Geigy Professor of Biology, is a member of the Department of Biology and the Center for Cancer Research.
The Ciba-Geigy appointments were announced by Dean of Science Robert J. Birgeneau, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics. "It is a special pleasure to be able to appoint two such distinguished scientists to the Ciba-Geigy chairs," he said. "They will undoubtedly continue to carry out innovative frontier research and will at the same time help our ties with one of the world's great pharmaceutical companies."
Professor Stubbe, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, joined MIT in 1987. She holds the BA in chemistry (1968) from the University of Pennsylvania and the PhD in organic chemistry (1971) from the University of California at Berkeley.
Among her honors are the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry (1986), the ICI-Stuart Pharmaceutical Award for Excellence in Chemistry (1989), the Cope Scholar Award (1993) and the Richards Medal from the Northeast Section of the ACS (1996).
Professor Housman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, led MIT teams which, in collaboration with researchers elsewhere, found in 1993 the genes responsible for Huntington's disease and myotonic dystrophy. A current research focus is Wilms' tumor, a childhood cancer. The gene for Wilms' was first isolated by Professor Housman's group in 1990.
He joined MIT in 1978 and holds the BA (1966) and the PhD (1971) in biology, both from Brandeis University.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 22, 1996.