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National Eye Institute's Wistow Receives Cogan Award

NEI Press Release

National Institutes of Health
National Eye Institute

May 1997

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 in understanding the structure, function, and gene recruitment of crystallins in the eye lens. Crystallins are the major structural components of the lens and are essential for transmitting and focusing a clear image in the eye. Defects in crystallins can lead to cataract. With expertise in both structural and molecular biology, Wistow has integrated different lines of research to produce a new scientific appreciation of the roles and properties of crystallins. His work includes the creation of a model for protein and genome evolution.

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

Wistow is chief of the NEI's Section on Molecular Structure and Function. Born and educated in England, he received his Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry with honors from Oxford University and his Doctorate in Protein Crystallography from the University of London. His

Ph.D. thesis described the first three-dimensional structure of a major lens protein, gamma-crystallin. Since May 1982, he has been conducting his research at the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1991, he received the NEI's Director's Award for his discovery of the enzyme crystallins and the phenomenon of gene recruitment.

A member of the editorial board of Molecular Vision, an internet journal of eye research, Wistow is a frequent reviewer for several scientific journals, including Nature. He is currently co-chair of the National Institutes of Health Advisory Committee on Computer Usage. His work on macrophage migration inhibitory factor in the lens has led to a US patent.

The Cogan Award was established in 1988 and recognizes researchers who have made important contributions to ophthalmology or visual science before the age of 40 and who hold substantial promise for the future. The award is named for a former NEI scientist, the late David Cogan, MD, a pioneer in neuro-ophthalmology. His textbooks, Neurology of the Visual System and Neurology of Eye Movement, remain classic 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

Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health