Maxine Singer Honoured with Philip Hauge Abelson Prize

Dr Maxine Singer; © AAAS

Even while pursuing new insights in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, Dr. Singer has worked to improve science education for all students, and to help refine American science policy, said Albert H. Teich, director of Science and Policy at AAAS.

"Dr. Singer has been especially influential in promoting consideration of the social, moral or ethical implications of scientific advancement," Teich noted. "By consistently promoting scientific responsibility, she has worked to enhance public trust in the scientific enterprise, and in scientist-citizens."

Singer's own scientific investigations have ranged from chromatin structure, to the structure and evolution of defective viruses, to enzymes that work on DNA and its complementary molecule, RNA. In the early 1960s, she investigated the genetic code with her NIH colleague, Marshall Nirenberg.

More recently, she has studied a large family of repeated DNA sequences called LINES, which are interspersed many times throughout mammalian DNA. With her co-workers, Singer has focused in particular on the LINE-1 sequence that is repeated thousands of times in human DNA, concluding that LINE-1 is a jumping gene capable of insertion to new places on chromosomal DNA.

Singer and her colleagues have continued to concentrate on explaining the precise mechanism of LINE-1 transposition, which may have broad significance for understanding genetic diseases.

Her lifelong efforts to promote responsible science first began to take shape in 1967, when she predicted that the research would "bring closer the day when the ability to manipulate genetic material can be used for improving the life of all humans."

MEDICA.de; Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science