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NEI Grantees Receive National Medals of Science

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Two former NEI grantees, Torsten N. Wiesel, M.D., and Lubert Stryer, M.D. were awarded National Medals of Science by President George W. Bush at the White House on Friday, July 27, 2007.

Dr. Wiesel, president emeritus at Rockefeller University, received a 2005 National Medal of Science award “for providing key insights into the operation of the visual system and for the discovery of the manner in which neural connections in the brain are made during their development and how they are maintained.” Dr. Wiesel received funding from NEI from 1976 to 1996 for research on the visual system that examined the neurobiological basis and the molecular and cellular mechanisms of vision. In 1981 Wiesel shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with David H. Hubel, M.D., for their collaborative work on information processing in the visual system. The prize also was shared with Roger W. Sperry, Ph.D., for his work on specialized functions of the cerebral hemispheres.

Dr. Stryer, the Mrs. George A. Winzer Professor of Cell Biology, Emeritus, and professor emeritus of neurobiology at Stanford School of Medicine, received a 2006 National Medal of Science award “for his elucidation of the biochemical basis of signal amplification in vision,” for pioneering the development of high-density micro-arrays for genetic analysis, and for “his influential biochemistry textbook [that] has influenced and inspired millions of students.” Dr. Stryer received funding from NEI from 1975 to 1998 for research on the molecular basis of visual excitation in retinal rod cells and how they adjust to variations in the intensity of light. The roles of calcium signals and protein structures were a major focus of this research.

A total of 16 scientists received National Medal of Science awards at the ceremony, eight each for the 2005 and 2006 awards. The National Medal of Science, administered by the National Science Foundation, is given to individuals in recognition of their “outstanding contributions to knowledge” in the “physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral, and engineering sciences.”

For more information on The National Medal of Science, visit http://www.nsf.gov/od/nms/medal.jsp.