The winners of the Poland-U.S. Science Award 2016
Prof. Ryszard Kierzek graduated with a degree in chemistry at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1978 at the Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at City of Hope National Medical Center and research fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as acting as a visiting professor at the University of Rochester. Presently, he is the head of RNA Chemistry and Biology Laboratory at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznan. In his research he uses the chemistry, biology, thermodynamics, bioinformatics and structure of RNA to modulate biological activity of RNA correlated with human diseases. He has published 150 scientific articles, which have been cited more than 6,000 times. He is a laureate of the Foundation for Polish Science MISTRZ award.
Prof. Douglas H. Turner studied chemistry at Harvard University. He obtained his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Columbia University. After his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley, he became a professor of chemistry at the University of Rochester, and works there to this day. Prof. Turner is an internationally acclaimed expert on biophysics of RNA, especially in RNA thermodynamics. The parameters he developed, known as “Turner Rules,” allow for the prediction of RNA folding. He has published more than 230 scientific articles, cited more 15,000 times.
Professors Kierzek and Turner are being recognized for the research on thermodynamics, biology and structure of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and RNA chemical synthesis. The researchers started their cooperation more than 30 years ago. Because of their scientific work, it has become possible to predict the structure of any RNA based on its sequence. Their research also elucidated RNA folding rules and the use of modified oligonucleotides to modulate biological activity of photogenic RNAs. Just one of the applications of this new knowledge is inhibiting the growth of the influenza virus.
Since the onset of Prof. Kierzek and Prof. Turner’s work, the thermodynamics and structure of RNA has had a great influence on the scientific community, especially on biochemists and biologists. Their collaboration has been hugely fruitful, with more than 60 joint publications, all with numerous citations.