2020 Boyer/Parvin Postdoctoral Award

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Postdoctoral Researcher Lucía Fernández del Río, from Professor Catherine Clarke’s group, receives one of three 2020 Boyer/Parvin Postdoctoral Awards.

At the June 9 online event, Fernández del Río was recognized for her research on Coenzyme Q Transportation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the Clarke group. To learn more about the Clarke group’s research, visit their website.

A screen shot from Fernandez Del Rio’s talk.

“I’m so pleased that Lucía has been chosen for a Boyer/Parvin Postdoctoral Award,” said Professor Catherine Clarke. “She is an absolutely stellar person and scientist. Lucía brings great energy and optimism to every problem she tackles and is exactly the type of scientist who will continue to make scientific discoveries and to mentor young scientists and help them make their own discoveries”.

Fernández del Río first came to UCLA when she visited Clarke’s lab as a graduate student. She is first author on a publication describing the results of her research in the Clarke lab (Free Rad Biol Med (2017) 110, 176). This publication was one of six that Fernández del Río co-authored during her research at the University of Córdoba, where she was awarded her Ph.D. in June 2017. She returned to the Clarke lab for her postdoctoral studies in October 2017, keen to become an expert in yeast molecular genetics and to study CoQ metabolism.  

Fernández del Río decided to embark on a new project to characterize the proteins and mechanisms responsible for uptake, trafficking, and assimilation of exogenously supplied CoQ. This is a new project to Clarke group; other members study the biosynthesis and function of CoQ. “Yeast is a terrific model for Lucía’s proposed trafficking studies because coq yeast mutants that lack CoQ can grow via fermentation, and are rescued for respiratory metabolism by the addition of exogenous CoQ,” Clarke said.  “Lucía utilized a double knockout yeast library (orfΔcoq2Δ) and identified those mutants that fail to be rescued by the presence of exogenous CoQ.  Lucía’s research will aid our understanding and use of CoQ supplements and may help us develop better approaches to treat CoQ deficiencies.”

At the Molecular Biology Institute (MBI) online event, “dedicated to recognizing excellence in postdoctoral research”, the three recipients gave short talks about their research. Nominees were also recognized. The other two recipients of the 2020 award were Dr. Erica Pandolfi (A. Clarke Lab, UCLA Health) and Dr. Steve Halaby (Gonen Lab, Department of Biological Chemistry). 

About the MBI Boyer/Parvin Postdoctoral Awards

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)

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.