Wen-Hui Lien, a doctoral degree candidate in the UW Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, is one of 13 graduate students chosen to receive the 2009 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award. Nominations were solicited internationally; the winners were selected on the basis of the quality, originality and significance of their work.
Lien studies the role and functional significance of aE-catenin in regulation of intercellular adhesion, cell proliferation and cancer. Specifically, she found that aE-catenin controls cerebral cortical size by regulating the hedgehog signaling pathway in developing mammalian brains. She is currently studying the mechanisms responsible for tumor-suppressor function of aE-catenin in skin cancer. She works in the lab of Valeri Vasioukhin at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The Weintraub award, sponsored by the Basic Sciences Division of FHCRC, was established in 2000 to honor the late Harold M. Weintraub a founding member of the division. Weintraub, an international leader in the field of molecular biology, identified genes responsible for instructing cells to differentiate into specific tissues such as muscle and bone.
Mark Groudine, deputy director of FHCRC and a former friend and colleague of Weintraub, was also instrumental in establishing the award.
Recipients receive a certificate, travel expenses and an honorarium from the Weintraub and Groudine Fund, established to foster intellectual exchange through the promotion of programs for graduate students, fellows and visiting scholars. Recipients will participate in a scientific symposium May 1 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.