Medical Research Foundation's 2005 Awards Recognize Leaders At Oregon's Top Research Institutions

11/22/05  Portland, Ore.

Annual awards honor OSU antioxidants researcher, a virologist and top university administrator at OHSU, and the late founder of UOs Institute of Molecular Biology.

The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, an affiliate of the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation, today announced this years recipients of its annual awards honoring leaders in the states scientific community.

The MRF Discovery Award recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement by a scientist working at an Oregon research institution. The MRF selected two Discovery Award recipients this year: Balz Frie, Ph.D., director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, and David Kabat, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Oregon Health & Science University.

OHSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lesley M. Hallick, Ph.D., will receive this years MRF Mentor Award. The award recognizes Dr. Hallick's 30-year contribution to OHSU as a scientist, educator and senior administrator during a period of substantial growth and change at Oregons only academic health and research university.

The MRF Pioneer Award - a one-time honor - recognizes the contributions of the late Aaron Novick, Ph.D., who died in 2000. The founding director of the University of Oregons Institute of Molecular Biology, Dr. Novick is widely credited with introducing the then-new field of molecular biology to Oregon in 1959. The success of the Institute elevated the stature of research at the UO and helped to make Dr. Novick one of the most respected and influential members of the Oregon scientific community.

The Medical Research Foundation of Oregon was started in 1942 by a group of businessmen and physicians to stimulate the development of medical research in Oregon. Its primary effort was directed at raising money to award seed grants for new research efforts by biomedical scientists working in Oregon. In 1974 the MRF created the Discovery Award and a year later the Mentor Award. Assets of the MRF are managed by the OHSU Foundation, which also administers the award process. Through research seed grants and Early Clinical Investigator awards, the MRF contributes more than $1 million per year in support of promising new research projects throughout Oregon.

The MRF Awards will be presented at an invitation-only ceremony in Portland on Nov. 29. More detailed biographical information about each MRF award winner appears in the accompanying sidebar. Contact the OHSU Foundation at 503 412-6372 for photographs or for further information.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES: Medical Research Foundation Award Winners, 2005

PIONEER AWARD

The late Aaron Novick, Ph.D.,(1919-2000), is honored with a special, one-time Pioneer Award for his seminal role in introducing the field of molecular biology to Oregon and in establishing the internationally acclaimed Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon. Dr. Novick, who died in 2000 at age 81, was one of the most distinguished and influential members of the Oregon scientific community.  After earning his doctorate in physical organic chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1943, Dr. Novick contributed to the development of the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. By 1947, his regrets over the consequences of this work helped inspire him to refocus his scientific career on biology and genetics. During the decade that followed - through fellowships at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and as a faculty member at the University of Chicago - Dr. Novick had the opportunity to associate with many of the scientists responsible for the birth of molecular biology. In 1959 the University of Oregon recruited Dr. Novick to launch the Institute of Molecular Biology, one of the first (if not the first) organizations designed to enable biologists, chemists and physicists to collaborate on the fundamental problems of biology at the molecular level. Under Dr. Novick's direction, a fertile environment of collaboration and freewheeling exchange of ideas took shape at the Institute and became central to its success. The Institute soon reached world-class status and spawned several distinguished scientists, adding significantly to the University of Oregon's reputation for research. After 10 years as director, Dr. Novick served as dean of the University of Oregon graduate school and, later, as chairman of the Department of Biology before retiring in 1984. This special award honors Dr. Novick for bringing molecular biology to Oregon, for establishing the Institute of Molecular Biology as an internationally recognized paradigm of a successful research enterprise and for enriching the lives of so many colleagues, students and friends.

DISCOVERY AWARDS

Balz Frei, Ph.D. has served as director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University since 1997. Dr. Frei is an outstanding scientist, educator and proponent of the role of nutrition in maintaining health and delaying age-related illnesses. He is an internationally respected leader in research into the mechanisms of atherosclerosis; the role of natural antioxidants (such as vitamin C and lipoic acid) in endothelial function; and the mechanisms of oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or bad cholesterol). Dr. Frei is widely recognized for contributing to the understanding of early biochemical changes in arterial cells that lead to atherosclerosis, as well as the mechanisms by which antioxidants modulate and protect against these changes. Many of his findings hold promise for clinical applications in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Under Dr. Freis direction, the Linus Pauling Institutes faculty has expanded dramatically and its peer-reviewed funding from the National Institutes of Health has more than quadrupled. Dr. Frei is also devoted to educating the public about the value of good nutrition in promoting health. A native of Switzerland, Dr. Frei earned his Ph.D. at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. He served as an assistant professor at the Harvard University School of Public Health and as an associate professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine before his appointment at Oregon State. The Discovery Award honors Dr. Frei's contributions - through research, leadership, and public service - to the field of nutrition education and health.

Dr. David Kabat is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the OHSU School of Medicine. His research has made a substantial and widely recognized impact on the field of virology. His laboratory has contributed major insights into basic membrane biology, into fundamental knowledge of the retrovirus family and into the mechanisms by which these pathogens cause disease. Dr. Kabat began his retroviral research program in 1975, initially focusing on mouse leukemia viruses and more recently focusing on the mechanisms and kinetics by which HIV-1 infects human cells and overcomes their innate defense systems. Dr. Kabat's recent research into the function of viral infectivity factor could have major implications for AIDS research. He is currently developing a drug-screening platform that could identify novel compounds with significant therapeutic potential in the treatment - and possibly even the prevention - of AIDS. Dr. Kabat has published nearly 150 peer-reviewed papers in the leading journals of his field, he serves as principal investigator of three investigator-initiated R01 grant applications funded by the National Institutes of Health, is a frequent presenter at national and international symposia and is an active reviewer for scholarly journals and the NIH. Dr. Kabat is also a committed educator of the graduate students in his laboratory, the last three of whom have won OHSU's prestigious Outstanding Thesis Award. Dr. Kabat received a Ph.D. in biochemistry/chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the OHSU faculty in 1969. The Discovery Award honors Dr. Kabat's major contributions to, and distinguished career in, the field of virology.

MENTOR AWARD

In her nearly 30 years at Oregon Health & Science University, Lesley M. Hallick, Ph.D., has risen from the rank of assistant professor to her current position as provost and vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Hallick's success at OHSU flows directly from her unparalleled passion for her work, and from her unique blend of skills, talents and admirable personal qualities. Dr. Hallick is universally valued and respected at OHSU for her impressive grasp of the workings of the institution, and for the calm authority she brings to a wide range of complicated situations. Her talent for absorbing, synthesizing and articulating complex ideas makes her highly effective at building consensus around even the most controversial issues. These talents have inspired and instructed scores of colleagues, senior administrators and students at OHSU and beyond. Dr. Hallick received a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin in 1972. She was an instructor and postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, during the mid-1970s before joining the OHSU faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in 1977. Her role as a mentor of OHSU students began when she was still a bench scientist and grew along with her ascendancy within the OHSU ranks. As provost, she has recruited and mentored five deans as well as five vice provosts with broad responsibilities throughout the institution. Externally, in her role as OHSU's principal champion in Salem, Dr. Hallick has worked effectively with lawmakers to bring into focus OHSU's unique value to the state. As OHSU has grown enormously in both size and complexity during the past decade, no one has worked more tirelessly than Dr. Hallick to advance the institution, to build partnerships, to confront challenges and to seize new opportunities. The Medical Research Foundation Mentor Award honors Dr. Hallick's contributions to the success of her institution as a committed scholar, effective leader, trusted friend and wise mentor.

The OHSU Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that exists to secure private philanthropic support for Oregon Health & Science University. The foundation raises funds from individuals, companies, foundations and organizations, and invests and manages gifts in accordance with donors wishes.