Bronx Scientist At Albert Einstein College of Medicine Receives Major Award

Wilson Medals for three pioneers of the cytoskeleton:
(L-R) Peter Satir, Bill Brinkley, and John Hauser / Image courtesy American Society of Cell Biology

Peter Satir, PhD, a cell biologist who graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1952 and is currently faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has received the highest honor in his field from the American Society for Cell Biology.

The ASCB awarded the EB Wilson Medal to Satir and two other scientists for their pioneering work in the cytoskeleton of cells and identification of crucial systems of cells.

According to the American Society for Cell Biology:

“We selected these three people because of their lifetime contributions to the field of cell biology, particularly to the study of the cytoskeleton,” says Joseph Gall, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, who chaired the Wilson Medal selection committee for ASCB. “The E.B. Wilson is the highest award given by the ASCB and it means a great deal to ASCB members, who recognize that our science is both collaborative and shaped by exceptional individuals. These three are exceptional.”

Early in his career, Satir made major breakthroughs using the then-novel technology of electron microscopy to visualize the famous 9+2 cross-section of bundled microtubules in the flagellum, the whip-like extensions that drive motile cells like sperm, or in the ciliary cells that line human airways, sweeping out debris in synchronized waves. Satir discovered that the microtubules in the bundle move by sliding past each other, proving they were powered by a one-way motor protein now called dynein. Satir’s continued work and continued insistence that ciliary action was central to many life processes led to the discovery by other researchers in 2000 that defects in non-motile cilium, cells with a single non-moving “antenna,” were at the root of a common, lethal human disorder, polycystic kidney disease (PKD). This touched off a scientific land rush, linking cilium defects to a long list of “ciliopathies,” diseases such as Bardet-Biedel syndrome, situs inversus, and nephronophthisis.

Congratulations to Peter Satir, PhD and to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for its dedication to excellence in research, and education in the training of our future doctors.

This is yet another of many Bronx success stories which we must celebrate and never forget.

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