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National Eye Institute's Wistow Receives Cogan Award

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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 inunderstanding the structure, function, and gene recruitment of crystallins in the eye lens. Crystallins are the major structuralcomponents of the lens and are essential for transmitting and focusinga clear image in the eye. Defects in crystallins can lead to cataract.With expertise in both structural and molecular biology, Wistow hasintegrated different lines of research to produce a new scientificappreciation of the roles and properties of crystallins. His workincludes the creation of a model for protein and genome evolution.

Wistow has authored about 80 papers in scientific journals and haschaired or been invited to speak at more than a dozen internationalmeetings on the molecular biology of the eye. His book, MolecularBiology and Evolution of Crystallins, was published in 1995.

Wistow is chief of the NEI’s Section on Molecular Structure andFunction. Born and educated in England, he received his BachelorsDegree in Biochemistry with honors from Oxford University and hisDoctorate in Protein Crystallography from the University of London.His

Ph.D. thesis described the first three-dimensional structure of amajor lens protein, gamma-crystallin. Since May 1982, he has beenconducting his research at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda,Maryland. In 1991, he received the NEI’s Director’s Award for hisdiscovery of the enzyme crystallins and the phenomenon of generecruitment.

A member of the editorial board of Molecular Vision, aninternet journal of eye research, Wistow is a frequent reviewer forseveral scientific journals, including Nature. He is currentlyco-chair of the National Institutes of Health Advisory Committee onComputer Usage. His work on macrophage migration inhibitory factor inthe lens has led to a US patent.

The Cogan Award was established in 1988 and recognizes researcherswho have made important contributions to ophthalmology or visualscience before the age of 40 and who hold substantial promise for thefuture. The award is named for a former NEI scientist, the late DavidCogan, MD, a pioneer in neuro-ophthalmology. His textbooks, Neurologyof the Visual System and Neurology of Eye Movement, remainclassic 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.

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May 1997