Sept. 17, 2008

Blanchard honored for pioneering ribosome research

Weill Cornell Medical College researcher Scott Blanchard has received the National Science Foundation's Career Award for his pioneering work in cell biology, including the development of a single-molecule tracking technology.

The award, announced in July, totals more than $800,000 over five years.

Blanchard, an assistant professor of physiology and biophysics, is known for advancing fluorescence technologies that allow scientists to observe the activities of single molecules in real time. Much of his research has been focused on the ribosome, the complex molecular machine responsible for translating DNA-encoded instructions into usable proteins.

"I'm extremely gratified to receive this award. It will help significantly to expand our work on the ribosome -- work that has potential for drug discovery," Blanchard said. "Nearly half of all therapeutic agents target the ribosome. Nevertheless, we know precious little about how they affect this complex enzyme at the molecular level. The NSF award will [help] shed important new light on conserved aspects of the ribosome mechanism across species, enhancing not only our basic knowledge how this enzyme is able to synthesize protein but also furthering our knowledge of how antibiotics work."

The award will also help fund the work of undergraduates in the Blanchard lab, as well as visits to the lab by New York City high school students.