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December 2007

Dick Smith Named to Prestigious 2007 Scientific American 50 List

Researchers use proteomics to understand the human brain in health and disease

Congratulations to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Battelle Fellow and Chief Scientist Dr. Richard Smith, who has been named to the 2007 Scientific American 50. Smith and collaborator Dr. Desmond Smith, University of California at Los Angeles, share the honor for their work on understanding the human brain.

Assembled by Scientific American's Board of Editors, the list honors 50 outstanding people or teams for their achievements and leadership in shaping established and emerging technologies. Previous honorees include Nobel prize-winning neurobiologist Roderick MacKinnon, former World Health Organization Secretary General Gro Harlem Brundtland, and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

The two scientists and their collaborators are developing analytical methods and technologies, including voxelation and gene expression tomography, to detect patterns in the transcriptome and proteome—the complete set of RNA that creates the chemical "blueprint" for producing proteins and the complete set of proteins produced—in the brain. Eventually, this research may help to identify patterns that indicate the early stages of brain impairment, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurological diseases. Many biomedical researchers believe that detecting disease states before symptoms occur is key to reversing many as-yet-incurable diseases.

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

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 website at

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