Bio researcher wins genius grant

Bio researcher Vamsi Mootha, 33, just won a $500K MacArthur fellowship (via Political Animal). Mootha is an assistant professor at Harvard who researches mitochondrial gene expression to combat disease.

By comparing the protein fingerprints with gene expression databases, more than 100 previously unknown mitochondrial proteins were identified. He used a similar, coordinated approach to identify the gene that causes Leigh Syndrome French Canadian variant, a fatal metabolic disease.  In diseases resulting not from a single gene but the interaction of sets of genes, he introduced a computational method for identifying patterns of gene activity in specific diseases… As importantly, Mootha has pioneered powerful, adaptable computational strategies for mining data collected in laboratories throughout the world, providing an efficient means to hunt down gene interactions that lead to a wide variety of diseases.

The James Logan debate coach won one as well. The Fremont-Newark-Union City area across from San Francisco has desi and Afghan gang problems, so this guy’s in the thick of it.

For 15 years, against long odds, Tommie Lindsey has held together an award-winning speech and debate team at James Logan High School in the blue- collar suburb of Union City. His students frequently defeat well-heeled competitors from elite high schools.

His teams have won four state championships; three James Logan students have been top winners at the national level and 25 at the state level. This year the team has more than 200 students. Ninety percent of Lindsey’s students go on to four-year colleges. Overall at Logan, just one-third of students qualify for the state university systems… In recent years, the team has been featured in a documentary and won a $100,000 award from Oprah Winfrey.

A 200-person debate team is enormous.

2 thoughts on “Bio researcher wins genius grant

  1. Iam rushing through this article..Great work.. though I did not read any of his original research papers and cannot comment on impact of his work on Leigh syndrome/other diseases ( we scientists in pharmaceutical company tend to work on diseases that effect millions of patients and never heard of Leigh syndrome, so probably its not a disease affecting millions ). thanks Manish for blogging on this… Great guy considering that he is a doctor and is into computer software design/ bioinformatics and came up withcomputational method for identifying patterns of gene activity in specific diseases..and he is real young.. Before human genome got completely sequenced some six to seven years back, it was frustrating to work for pharmaceutical companies for me and work on unknown genes and trying to figure out how they are malfunctioning in a particular disease.. After they completed human genome sequencing, the key to all cures is in bioinformatics and integrative genomics…and secrets to all diseases are in the DNA/genes..genes so small which I cannot even see with our eyes yet I cloned and corrected the mistakes in genes everyday for years..thanks to all the new technologies that many scientists discovered/invented the last 30-40 yrs…Cells/genes/gene function studies are so fascinating and understanding diseases today is becoming easier…thanks to scientists like Vamsi Mootha, finding cure for diseases is a lil easier these days.. But even today designing an artificial drug screening system that simulates a natural disease is real hard when multiple genes/geneproducts/proteins are involved ..sometimes its a delicate balance between amounts of two gene products proteins that counteract and control each other and control multiple genes downstream and upstream affecting five to ten organs in our bodies. And increase /decrease of either one of the gene products can cause a lot of new diseases affecting all the five or ten organs in our bodies as these genes are expressed in all these ten body parts one needs to find drugs which do not disturb the balance in the quantities of either of gene products at the same time control the increase/decrease of one of the malfunctioning gene products and organs.. drugs that specifically control the disease in only one of the malfunctioning organs in the body and not affecting the other normal organs in our systems though the gene is universally expressed in ten other organs…very tricky/risky business..but very fascinating.. Hope this is making sense Iam typing too fast due to lack of time. Debating school sounds so fascinating. I was reminded of Dead poets society movie which I saw recently…I wonder how it will be if all the 200 top debaters in the school have to debate on one topic.. probably it would be fun if it was more of a elocution competition between these top 200 debators on “the worlds best technology invented/discovered so far” ..I would love to sit all day long and hear top class debators trying to compete with each other and outsmarting one another and deciding on just one world’s best technology invented/discovered so far..It would so much fun.. And interesting statistics % of debators going for higher education is high.. I think debating is an important skill every school student should try to develop. It helps in developing a rational and analytical thought process.

  2. props to lindsey. that IS quite an achievement. I’d love to see what the composition of his teams is like.