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.