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PNNL’s Richard Smith named to prestigious Scientific American 50 list of outstanding leaders

Development of protein map one of Smith’s contributions in past year

December 17, 2007 Share This!

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RICHLAND, Wash. – Richard D. Smith, a Battelle Fellow at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has been named one of 50 outstanding leaders in the 2007 Scientific American 50 – an annual list of 50 key contributors in science and technology. Smith shared the honor for creating a new approach to neurological diagnostics with Desmond Smith of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Smith’s research may help identify the earliest detectable stages of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. Smith’s findings indicate that many neurodegenerative diseases leave a biochemical calling card, or biomarker, that may be used to predict early stages of brain impairment. The understandings from this research may result in the discovery of drug targets for new therapeutic approaches. Many biomedical researchers also believe that detecting disease states before symptoms occur is key to reversing many as-yet-incurable diseases.

Smith’s work led to the mapping of proteins in brain tissues. This mapping has allowed scientists to examine the location and abundance of large numbers of proteins within healthy brain tissue, which can be compared to protein portraits found within diseased brain tissues. These differences may help identify neurological diseases at a very early stage and proteins that might be targeted for drug intervention. It’s hoped that such diseases might be curbed if caught and treated early enough.

“Dick Smith and his team have pushed the frontiers of proteomics instrumentation far beyond what was imagined just a few years ago,” according to Doug Ray, PNNL’s deputy director for science and technology. “By integrating new ideas into the tools available to conduct research, they have made comprehensive proteomic mapping possible.”

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and PNNL's Biomolecular Systems Initiative. Most of the work was conducted at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE national scientific user facility located at PNNL.

The Board of Editors of Scientific American magazine selected Smith as one of 50 honorees chosen annually for accomplishments in research, business or policymaking, and demonstration of leadership in shaping both established and emerging technologies.

Past Scientific American 50 winners include stem cell researcher Douglas Melton, Nobel prize-winning neurobiologist Roderick MacKinnon, former World Health Organization Secretary General Gro Harlem Brundtland, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The complete list of this year’s winners for the SA 50 appears in the January 2008 issue of Scientific American. It can also be viewed on the magazine’s Web site.

Tags: Fundamental Science, Awards and Honors, Proteomics

EMSL, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, is a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Science.  Located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., EMSL offers an open, collaborative environment for scientific discovery to researchers around the world. Its integrated computational and experimental resources enable researchers to realize important scientific insights and create new technologies. Follow EMSL on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of more than $1 billion. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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