Author Archives: pubaff


New perks, health and wellness events unveiled. Rockefeller students and employees are now eligible for a discount on Verizon FiOS service, special banking deals from Apple Bank and on mortgage rates at Chase, and car rental deals with Enterprise CarShare. For more information on perks, visit Human resources will also offer stress reduction meditation sessions starting in September, along with health and wellness lectures, fitness classes, nutritional counseling, and individual financial counseling sessions with TIAA-CREF. Check the university calendar for details and times.

Rockefeller designated a “Milestones in Microbiology” site by the American Society for Microbiology

Infectious disease was once the most serious threat to human health. Research in microbiology changed this by revealing the responsible pathogens and producing therapies to counter their infection. For its critical contributions to this historic transition, this spring The Rockefeller University was named a “Milestones in Microbiology” site by the American Society for Microbiology. A plaque commemorating the honor, presented in April by Stanley Maloy, past president of the society, has been installed on the first floor of the Greenberg Building.

Artist Isabella Kirkland donates prints to Rockefeller

The earth has lost approximately 1,000 species to extinction in the past 500 years, and scientists predict that number will multiply rapidly during this century. At the same time, thousands of species new to science are discovered each year and several million may remain to be discovered. In response to the alarming die-offs past, present, and future, and to celebrate the new and unknown, artist and researcher Isabella Kirkland has created Taxa, a suite of six paintings that explore the science of biodiversity.



C. David Allis, the Jonathan Kraft Prize for Excellence in Cancer Research, presented by the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The newly established award celebrates achievements in cancer research and includes a monetary prize of $20,000, endowed by Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, in honor of his son. The award was presented to Dr. Allis on April 3. Dr. Allis is Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics.

Convocation 2015

When The Rockefeller University held its first Convocation in 1959, there were only five graduates. Fifty-six years later, as of Convocation on June 11, 2015, there are now 1,178 recipients of the Rockefeller University doctor of philosophy degree.

Honorary degrees awarded to three Pearl Meister Greengard laureates

In addition to 28 students, three trailblazing women in science received degrees from Rockefeller this year. In a tradition dating back more than 50 years, the university awarded honorary doctorate of science degrees to distinguished individuals who have made notable contributions to bioscience: Nicole Le Douarin, a developmental biologist at the Collège de France; Mary Frances Lyon, a geneticist at the U.K. Medical Research Council, whose degree was awarded posthumously; and Brenda Milner, a neuropsychologist at McGill University.

Gaby Maimon and Vanessa Ruta honored with teaching awards

For Rockefeller graduate students there is labwork, and there is coursework. This year, the university recognizes two teachers who have devoted substantial time, energy, and creativity to designing and leading one of the most challenging and innovative courses within the university’s graduate curriculum: Gaby Maimon, assistant professor and head of the Laboratory of Integrative Brain Function, and Vanessa Ruta, Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Assistant Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Behavior. They were presented with the university’s Distinguished Teaching Awards at this year’s Convocation luncheon.

Lindsay Bellani

Presented by Leslie B. Vosshall

B.S., The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Why Mosquitoes Bite Some People More than Others: Metabolic Correlates of Human Attraction in Aedes aegypti

Jabez Bok

Presented by Sidney Strickland on behalf of Robert G. Roeder

B.S., University of Wisconsin, Madison

Mechanism of Action of ING4 as a Transcriptional Coactivator of p53

Akinori F. Ebihara

Presented by Winrich Freiwald on behalf of himself and Marcelo O. Magnasco

B.S., The University of Tokyo

Normalization Among Heterogeneous Population Confers Stimulus Discriminability on the Macaque Face Patch Neurons

Anna Katherine Kruyer

Presented by Erin Norris on behalf of herself and Sidney Strickland

B.A., Fordham College at Lincoln Center

The Effect of Chronic Hypertension on Neuropathology in the TgSwDI Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease

Johannes Larsch

Presented by Leslie B. Vosshall on behalf of Cori Bargmann

M.Sc., University of Konstanz

A Mechanism for Spatial Orientation Based on Sensory Adaptation in Caenorhabditis elegans

Hyeseung Lee

Presented by Sohail Tavazoie

B.S., Ewha Womans University

Identification of Tmem2 as a Sox4 Transcriptional Target Involved in Breast Cancer Metastasis

Johannes F. Scheid

Presented by Michel C. Nussenzweig
Member of the graduating class of 2014

Diploma, University of Arts, Berlin

M.D., Humboldt University – Charite, Berlin

The Antibody Response against HIV

Roman Subbotin

Presented by Brian T. Chait

B.S., M.S., Taras Shevchenko Kiev State University

M.S., University of Minnesota

Chemical Stabilization—A Path Towards Deciphering Protein-Protein Interactions in the Cellular Milieu

He Tian

Presented by Thomas P. Sakmar

B.S., Peking University

Development of Novel Chemical Biology Tools for Probing Structure-Function Relationships in G Protein Coupled Receptors

Yifan Xu

Presented by Jeremy Dittman on behalf of Cori Bargmann

B.S., Duke University

Neural Circuit Dependence of Acute and Subacute Nociception in Caenorhabditis elegans

John Z. Xue

Presented by Hironori Funabiki

B.A., University of Cambridge

Xenopus Dppa2 is a Direct Inhibitor of Microtubule Polymerization Required for Nuclear Assembly

Daria A. Zamolodchikov

Presented by Sidney Strickland

A.B., Princeton University

A New Role for b-Amyloid in Alzheimer’s Disease: Initiation of Thrombotic and Inflammatory Processes via Coagulation Factor XII and Fibrinogen


Kids welcome. In celebration of national Take Your Child to Work Day, Human Resources will host activities for 8- to 12-year-olds from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 23. Children must be registered by April 17 and must be accompanied by an adult to attend. Space is limited. For more information, call x8300.

Child and Family Center to expand by five rooms

The Rockefeller University Child and Family Center, long one of the university’s most coveted perks for parents and a model for work-site child care facilities nationwide, will expand by 40 percent this year, with five new classrooms to be constructed on the second floor of the Graduate Students Residence. The expansion, which will double the number of highly desirable infant spots available in the program as well as add new seats for toddlers and preschoolers, is the first increase in the CFC’s size since 2001 and will help shorten a lengthy admissions waitlist that some families remain on for two years or more.

New career director to help students and postdocs navigate options

Andrea Morris’s career in biology has had a few curves. After earning a Ph.D. in molecular biology and doing a postdoc, she took a tenure-track faculty job, teaching and running a lab at a small liberal arts college. But she ultimately gave up tenure, and the bench, to work in higher education administration. Now, as the newly hired director of career resources and professional development in Rockefeller’s Dean’s Office, she is charting yet another course, putting her biology Ph.D. to work in ways Rockefeller students and postdocs can appreciate.

Two new Trustees are elected to Board

The university’s Board of Trustees elected two new members in October 2014: Weslie Janeway, a philanthropist with a long-standing interest in genetics, and Michael J. Price, an investment advisor specializing in the telecom and technology industries. With their elections, the university now has 45 voting trustees.

‘Talking Science’ lecture moves to January

The university’s annual holiday lecture for high school students, a tradition dating back to 1960, received a makeover this year. In addition to a new name, “Talking Science,” which debuted in 2013, the lecture was moved to the second Saturday of January, and expanded to include a lunchtime program of scientific demonstrations — highlights included electric fish, visual illusions and fruit fly mating — in the CRC, as well as the customary two-part lecture in Caspary Auditorium.



Mary Ellen Conley, the AAI-Steinman Award from the American Association of Immunologists. The award, named for the late Ralph M. Steinman, head of Rockefeller’s Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology, recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the understanding of immune processes underlying human disease pathogenesis, prevention or therapy. The award will be presented May 10 at the association’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Dr. Conley is a member of Jean-Laurent Casanova’s St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases.


Tri-I TDI makes modeling software available. The Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, Inc. (Tri-I TDI) has signed an agreement to provide access to Schrödinger’s materials science, biologics and small‑molecule drug discovery suites to researchers within Tri-I TDI’s member institutions. The software simulation tools, which perform virtual screening, analyze potential compounds for suitability and model chemical systems, are designed to advance early-stage research toward new therapeutics. The contract includes open access to key industry-leading tools of drug discovery as well as training. For more information, visit

Geneticist Joe Gleeson joins faculty as professor

Joseph Gleeson, a neurogeneticist who uses genetic sequencing to identify the causes of pediatric brain disease across its spectrum, including epilepsy, autism, intellectual disability and structural disorders, has joined Rockefeller as a professor and established the Laboratory of Pediatric Brain Diseases. Dr. Gleeson, formerly a professor at the University of California, San Diego, is one of two mid-career scientists who joined the university this summer (the other, Jue Chen, was featured in the June 13 issue of BenchMarks).

New cryo-EM suite expands Rockefeller’s capabilities in structural biology

Structural biology, in which scientists examine the shapes of specific proteins and protein complexes at a molecular scale, has driven some of biology’s most profound discoveries in the past decade, including insights into neurological signaling, pathogenic processes and DNA transcription. With the acquisition of sophisticated new cryo-electron microscopy tools, the university’s labs will be able to benefit from technology that allows for the visualization of three-dimensional structures of molecules and macromolecular complexes in solution.

Playing doctors: Tri-Institutional Music and Medicine Program features physicians and scientists who also perform music

Maybe it’s the fact that they both involve a good amount of discipline, or maybe it’s that each requires a certain flair for creative thought. Whatever the reason, many people find themselves drawn to both music and science, and are often faced with the difficult decision of choosing between two passions. The Music and Medicine program at Weill Cornell Medical College aims to make that choice easy for the students and faculty of Rockefeller, Cornell and Memorial Sloan Kettering — they can have both.

Science communicator named new head of Public Affairs

An endless stream of compelling discoveries emerges regularly from Rockefeller’s research community and it is the job of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs to make sure those findings are accessible internally and externally. The new executive director of the office, Franklin Hoke, brings with him a background as a veteran science journalist and communications leader in academic settings, and he plans to bolster the office’s core mission to disseminate scientific news. He joined the university in June.

Antique vacuum pump finds new home in Pennsylvania

Not as iconic as the breakthrough discoveries and famous names, but a vital part of Rockefeller’s history nonetheless — a pump that supplied vacuum pressure to Rockefeller labs for over half a century — is having its moment in the spotlight. One of the last of its kind in Manhattan, the 1952 pump (left) has been donated to the National Museum of Industrial History, a new facility now under construction in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

130 employees honored for longtime service

Several ceremonies were held this year to commemorate years of service to the university by Rockefeller employees. This month, 45 members of the university were celebrated for 10 years of service. And in May, an Employee Recognition Reception was held to honor 29 employees who have worked at Rockefeller for 20 and 25 years, followed by an anniversary dinner honoring 16 retirees and 40 employees with 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 60 years of service. To see more photos from the three events, visit

Professor Emeritus Peter Marler, researcher of songbird learning, dies

Professor Emeritus Peter Robert Marler, whose work in songbird learning established a foundation for understanding how animals communicate, died July 5 at the age of 86 in Winters, California. Dr. Marler joined Rockefeller’s faculty in 1966 and helped establish the Millbrook Field Research Center about 80 miles north of Manhattan, serving as its founding director from 1972 to 1981.



C. David Allis, the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The award recognizes Dr. Allis “for the discovery of covalent modifications of histone proteins and their critical roles in the regulation of gene expression and chromatin organization, advancing the understanding of diseases ranging from birth defects to cancer.” The Breakthrough Prize, worth $3 million, was launched in 2013 by a group of Internet and technology entrepreneurs to recognize transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life. Dr. Allis is one of six scientists to receive the life sciences prize this year; the awards were presented at a celebrity-studded gala awards ceremony November 9 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Dr. Allis is Joy and Jack Fishman Professor and head of the Laboratory of Chromatin Biology and Epigenetics.

Convocation 2014

Convocation 2014The 2014 Convocation awarded 23 Ph.Ds to Rockefeller graduate fellows, bringing the total number of Rockefeller alumni to 1,150. The luncheon preceding the ceremony was held for the first time in the new, grandly restored Great Hall of Welch. Following tradition, faculty mentors joined their students in a procession across the campus, then presented each at a formal ceremony in Caspary Auditorium. Afterward, the campus community turned out for a reception in Weiss Café to celebrate the graduates.

Coming soon, to The David Rockefeller Program

As the graduating class of 2014 moves on to the next stages of life and career, the Rockefeller community welcomes the incoming group of graduate fellows. There were 744 applications received this year, and after careful consideration by the admissions committee, 77 applicants were offered admission to the university.