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The Society for Biomolecular Screening Awards Promega Scientist for Innovation

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
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High Throughput Screening Award celebrates 'twinkles in the night'.

For outstanding contribution and innovation in the drug discovery area, The Society for Biomolecular Screening (SBS) has awarded Promega Corporation scientist Keith Wood the PerkinElmer Life Sciences Award for Innovation in Automation and High Throughput Screening. The award recognizes Dr. Wood's research and development of bioluminescent reporter gene technology.  Working with a team of scientists at the University of California, Dr. Wood cloned a gene responsible for the light in fireflies and showed how it could be used for measuring events within living cells.  After joining Promega in 1990, Dr. Wood further developed this technology to enable methods for rapid and reliable quantitation of over 100,000 biological samples per day.  This allows researchers to readily evaluate large compound libraries in search of new drugs.  Presently, Dr. Wood manages the Biomolecular Imaging and Reporters Program at Promega to develop other luminescent and fluorescent technologies for drug discovery.  The SBS grants this prestigious award at its 7th Annual Conference in Baltimore, Md.  on September 13.

According to Dr. John Westerfeld, Chair of the SBS Awards Committee, "Dr. Wood's work has led to important discoveries in basic research and has helped propel drug discovery to new frontiers."

He joins two eminent innovators recognized for significant accomplishments in life science research:  Dr. Leroy Hood and Dr. Michael Hunkapiller, recipients of the SBS Achievement Award.  This select group will present their perspectives at the SBS annual conference.

Dr. Wood will lecture on "High Throughput Technologies from Twinkles in the Night."  His research highlights how the fascinating phenomenon of bioluminescence has also been found to be invaluable as a tool for studying living processes.  The association of light with specific genes allows these genes to serve as unique beacons within the immense complexity of a living cell. As Dr. Wood describes, "By using luminous reporter genes, we can wire these natural lights into cells in a fashion similar to wiring LED's into electronic devices. They allow us to see what's happening as genetic 'circuits' are turned on or off."  Although the original research was based primarily on firefly enzymes, recent developments also involve enzymes from other organisms to provide new characteristics such as different colors.

Dr. Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., of the Institute for Systems Biology, will lecture on his research which has focused on molecular immunology and biotechnology. His former UW laboratory has played a major role in developing automated microchemical instrumentation for the sequence analysis of proteins and DNA and the synthesis of peptides and gene fragments.  More recently, he has applied his laboratory's expertise in large-scale DNA mapping and sequencing to the analysis of the human and mouse T-cell receptor loci. His laboratory is also interested in the study of autoimmune diseases and new approaches to cancer biology.  His lecture is titled "Deciphering Life:  Genomics, Proteomics and Systems Biology."

Michael Hunkapiller, Ph.D., of Applera Corporation and Applied Biosystems  will lecture on "Transforming Life Science and Enabling Technologies."  Dr.  Hunkapillar and his team at Applied Biosystems Inc. put the first automated sequencing machine on the market in the mid-1980s. In the late 1990s, Dr.  Hunkapillar's group at PE Biosystems developed the lightning-speed PE Prism  3700 machine, which was used for all of Celera's sequencing and much of the  public Human Genome Project.

The mission of The Society for Biomolecular Screening is to provide a forum for education and information exchange amongst professionals within Drug Discovery and related disciplines.  In the process, The Society for Biomolecular Screening is committed to the highest standard of professional ethics.  The Life Sciences Award for Innovation in Automation and High Throughput Screening is co-sponsored by PerkinElmer.

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