The MicroRNA Revolution: The 2012 Dr. Paul Janssen Award Symposium
Working at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Drs. Victor Ambros and Gary Ruvkun and their groups identified and characterized the first microRNA. Dr. Ambros' laboratory yielded the discovery of the first microRNA and Dr. Ruvkun's laboratory identified how that microRNA regulates its target messenger. Together, they demonstrated that the microRNA inactivates its target through direct, base-pairing interactions. Since their discovery, the small RNA field has grown to thousands of papers, many focused on particular diseases and potential treatments. The research has come full circle — from fundamental biology to medicine, and today we recognize that the human genome contains perhaps as many as 1000 microRNAs that serve as pivotal regulators of both normal and disease physiology. In recognition of their role in the discovery of microRNA, Drs. Ambros and Ruvkun will receive the 2012 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research.
This symposium will honor Ambros and Ruvkun, who will each reflect upon their early discoveries and ongoing research to better understand the molecular mechanisms by which microRNAs regulate gene expression. MicroRNAs have since been shown to play a critical role in embryonic development, blood-cell specialization, cancer, muscle function, metabolism, aging, heart disease, inflammation, viral infections, stem-cell behavior and neurological signaling. Following the Award lectures, leading scientists in the microRNA field will discuss new insights in the mechanism of microRNA-mediated target repression and specific microRNAs that are currently being pursued as diagnostic and prognostic indicators as well as clinical therapeutics.