2019 Boyer/Parvin Postdoctoral Awards

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Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Yuan Yang, from Professor Juli Feigon’s group, received one of three Boyer/Parvin Postdoctoral Awards at the ceremony on June 25.

Yang was recognized for her research on the structure and function of the 7SK RNP, an essential regulator of eukaryotic mRNA and HIV-1 transcription. In particular, Yang’s work has revealed how the enzyme MePCE (methylphosphate capping enzyme) functions in both uniquely capping the 5’-end of the 7SK RNA with a methyl group on the phosphate and in assembling the 7SK RNP. Her crystal structures of capped 7SK RNA-MePCE complexes and detailed enzyme kinetics provided the structural basis for 7SK RNA recognition and a mechanistic view for the enzyme retention of capped RNA product after catalysis. This groundbreaking work was recently published in Nature Chemical Biology. To learn more about the Feigon group’s research, visit their website.

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(From left) Dr. Shiheng Liu, Dr. Yaqiang Wang, Professor Juli Feigon, Dr. Yuan Yang, Dr. Catherine (Katie) Eichhorn. Wang and Eichhorn members of the Feigon group and collaborators with Yang.

Dr. Shiheng (Bruce) Liu from Professor Hong Zhou’s group, and Dr. Koushik Roy from Professor Alexander Hoffmann’s group, also received the award. Both postdoctoral researchers are members of the UCLA Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics. Liu is a frequent collaborator of the Feigon group.

Dr. Jacob Sanders, from Professor Ken Houk’s group in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, was nominated for an award, which is also a significant honor.

The 2019 Boyer/Parvin Postdoctoral Award ceremony took place at the La Kretz Garden Pavilion on the UCLA campus.  

From the program for the 2019 Boyer/Parvin Postdoctoral Awards Ceremony:

MBI Founding Director and UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty member Professor Paul Boyer had a deep regard for postdoctoral researchers. He appreciated the dedication, intellect and skill they bring and the impact of their research on scientific progress.

It was in this spirit that Boyer donated a portion of his 1997 Nobel Prize to establish the Postdoctoral Awards. Additional support from his long-time colleague James Peter, from Phyllis Parvin on behalf of the Parvin Foundation and from Amgen Inc., created an opportunity to recognize 100 exceptional researchers in Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology, for the past 16 years.

As the last of the Nobel funds were awarded in 2015, it was an honor to thank and pay tribute to Paul and Lyda Boyer at an award ceremony at UCLA [on October 9, 2015 – Read more here]. Many Boyer family members, Phyllis Parvin, the Dean’s Life Sciences and Physical Sciences and former colleagues and friends from UCLA attended.

The Parvin Foundation has been a tireless supporter of molecular biology research since the gift of $1 million made the Molecular Biology Building (now Paul D. Boyer Hall) possible. Foundation President Phyllis Parvin continues to be an avid supporter of the postdoctoral awards. Thanks to the Parvin Foundation, Amgen Inc. and individual donors who believe in the value of postdoctoral research, we are able to continue the tradition of recognizing these exceptional scientists.

“The study of life processes has given me a deep appreciate for the marvel of the living cell. The beauty, the design, and the controls honed by years of evolution, and the ability humans have to gain more and more understanding of life, the earth and the universe, are wonderful to contemplate.” – Paul Boyer (Biography, Les Prix Nobel)

Photo by Helen Houldsworth, UCLA MBI. Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.