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Biochemistry Student's Research Awarded


Biochemistry Graduate Student Receives UCR Award for Outstanding Research

Rosaleen Gibbons, a Ph.D. student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program received the Mary and Randolph Wedding Award for 2005

(May 27, 2005)

Rosaleen Gibbons

Rosaleen Gibbons

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — www.ucr.edu — Rosaleen Gibbons, a PhD student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, received the Mary and Randolph T. Wedding Annual Prize for her paper examining DNA differences between humans and great apes, published in the Journal of Molecular Biology in 2004.

Gibbons received the prize, which carries a $2,000 cash award, at a reception and brief ceremony between Boyce and Webber Hall on Wednesday May 25. Professor Wedding’s son, Randolph E. Wedding, presented the award; daughter Sheila was also in attendance. Gibbons competed with fellow graduate students in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program for the award. Randolph T. Wedding was one of six founding professors in the then Department of Plant Biochemistry in 1960, which became today’s Department of Biochemistry in 1962.

Wedding played a leadership role in the development of the Biochemistry Department and of the graduate program in Biochemistry. The program’s first students enrolled in the fall of 1962. Wedding was chair of the Department of Biochemistry from 1966 to 1975, teaching and mentoring graduate students and conducting research into plant enzymes until his retirement in 1993.

“I’m very surprised and very encouraged by this very generous support,” Gibbons said. “I want to continue my research as a postdoctoral fellow, hopefully.”

A Moreno Valley High School graduate, Gibbons, who transferred from Mt. San Jacinto Community College in 1997 to complete her undergraduate studies at UCR, is scheduled to receive her Ph.D. in June. She has carried out her research under the direction of Professor Achilles Dugaiczyk, a distinguished scientist researching the role of the Alu DNA in primate evolution. Alu DNA repeats are short, interspersed elements, often referred to as “junk DNA” because they don’t code for any particular proteins, which drives how DNA makes cells behave.

Gibbons’ research has made major strides in analyzing the organization of Alu repeats in the human genome and within the architecture of human chromosomes.

“My paper describes a 250-fold increase of Alu DNA elements in human compared to chimpanzee DNA that prior to this work had not been realized,” Gibbons said. “Although 98 percent of DNA is known to be identical in humans and chimps, I chose to look at variations within the remaining 2 percent.”

“Alu repeats may be involved in early developmental processes, so what it means to be human may reside within only 2 percent of the genome.” Gibbons said. She hopes to do her postdoctoral work in cancer research at either Loma Linda University Medical Center or at the Scripps Institute in San Diego.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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