Congratulations to Philip Zamore, PhD on being elected to the National Academy of Medicine! Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. He was elected based on his fundamental contributions to the understanding of RNAi, developing the first biochemical systems to study siRNAs, miRNAs, and their protein partners. His seminal discoveries explained how small RNAs are made and repress genes, transposons, and viruses. He has used these insights to develop novel RNA-based therapies for human diseases.
Zamore was awarded a Keck Young Scholars grant in 2002 to investigate the molecular basis of the RNAi phenomenon and develop this knowledge into a potential therapy for human disease. The Foundation is proud to have supported such an outstanding career.
Congratulations to Louis E. Brus, PhD, who was awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry! Dr. Brus won the prize for the discovery and synthesis of quantum dots and shares this year’s prize with Moungi G. Bawendi of MIT and Alexei I. Ekimov, of Nanocrystals Technology, Inc. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2023 rewards the discovery and development of quantum dots, nanoparticles so tiny that their size determines their properties. These smallest components of nanotechnology now spread their light from televisions and LED lamps, and can also guide surgeons when they remove tumor tissue, among many other things.
In 2009, the W. M. Keck Foundation awarded a $750,000 grant to Columbia University Principal Investigator Brus to study an energy conversion process in nanoparticles to demonstrate its applicability for improved solar energy devices. The W. M. Keck Foundation is proud to have provided early funding for awardees of ten Nobel prizes.
A recently completed grant made in 2018 to the University of California, Los Angeles as part of the Keck Court Biomedical Initiative, had a team of four investigators led by Professor S. Lawrence Zipursky, studying fundamental questions regarding the roles of nature and nurture in the developing brain. The team studied how the visual circuits of the mouse brain are wired in response to vision during the “critical period” of early development, in the days after the eyes first open. They followed the changes in the response properties of thousands of neurons by imaging each cell over time. The research team found that the established model was wrong: the circuit is not refined just once but instead the circuitry is built, tested, deconstructed, and built again. Visual experience drives optimization through this process of serial testing. They also found data to suggest that within the cortex, there are genetically hard-wired circuits, and others that are readily modified by experience. Future studies may show if this new understanding of brain circuit development is true for other parts of the mouse brain, and perhaps for humans as well.
In June, the Foundation’s Board of Directors awarded grants to nine organizations in Southern California, totaling $3 million. Abstracts for these grants have been released. Congratulations to all our grantees this cycle!
In June, the Foundation’s Board of Directors awarded grants to ten Research institutions, totaling $11.8 million. Abstracts for these grants have been released. Congratulations to all our grantees this cycle!
Our 2022 Annual Report highlights the study of earth science and related fields. In the last 15 years we have contributed over $33 million to pioneering research striving to better understand our earth.