Graeme Wistow, Ph.D., a researcher at the National Eye Institute (NEI), one
of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health, has been selected by
the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) to receive its
prestigious Cogan Award for outstanding contributions to visual science.
Wistow was chosen for his important scientific advances in understanding the
structure, function, and gene recruitment of crystallins in the eye lens.
Crystallins are the major structural components of the lens and are essential
for transmitting and focusing a clear image in the eye. Defects in crystallins
can lead to cataract. With expertise in both structural and molecular biology,
Wistow has integrated different lines of research to produce a new scientific
appreciation of the roles and properties of crystallins. His work includes the
creation of a model for protein and genome evolution.
Wistow has authored about 80 papers in scientific journals and has chaired
or been invited to speak at more than a dozen international meetings on the
molecular biology of the eye. His book, Molecular Biology and Evolution of
Crystallins, was published in 1995.
Wistow is chief of the NEI's Section on Molecular Structure and Function.
Born and educated in England, he received his Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry
with honors from Oxford University and his Doctorate in Protein Crystallography
from the University of London. His
Ph.D. thesis described the first three-dimensional structure of a major
lens protein, gamma-crystallin. Since May 1982, he has been conducting his
research at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1991, he
received the NEI's Director's Award for his discovery of the enzyme crystallins
and the phenomenon of gene recruitment.
A member of the editorial board of Molecular Vision, an internet
journal of eye research, Wistow is a frequent reviewer for several scientific
journals, including Nature. He is currently co-chair of the National
Institutes of Health Advisory Committee on Computer Usage. His work on
macrophage migration inhibitory factor in the lens has led to a US patent.
The Cogan Award was established in 1988 and recognizes researchers who have
made important contributions to ophthalmology or visual science before the age
of 40 and who hold substantial promise for the future. The award is named for a
former NEI scientist, the late David Cogan, MD, a pioneer in
neuro-ophthalmology. His textbooks, Neurology of the Visual System and
Neurology of Eye Movement, remain classic reference works.
Wistow will be honored at ARVO's May 1997 annual meeting in Ft. Lauderdale,
Florida, where he will deliver the Cogan Award Lecture, Crystallins: Stress
Proteins, Enzymes, and Gene Recruitment in the Lens.