Marcus Long awarded new HHMI fellowship

Long will continue studying methods of targeting and destroying proteins

Marcus Long

Marcus Long, a third-year Ph.D. student in the graduate program in biochemistry and member of the Hedstrom Lab has been awarded a Howard Hughes International Student Research Fellowship  (HHMI) for 2011-2013. The grant will support his continued research on a novel protein degradation strategy that aims to selectively tag and target proteins for destruction. Professor Hedstrom and colleagues in her laboratory pioneered the method.

“If you can imagine that you have a protein that’s causing some sort of disease, and you can destroy or degrade that protein, then in principle you could save lives,” says Long. “Or if you have a protein that’s toxic then in principle you could make it weaker.”

Long says that he will play his part in a collaborative effort alongside lab colleagues Rory Coffey, Devi Gollapali and others to understand the mechanism and limitations of this new methodology.

“It’s always nice to get some recognition,” says Long, who hails from England and completed his undergraduate work at Oxford.

Long says receipt of the award reflects strongly on the quality of research conducted at Brandeis, lauding the interdisciplinary approach taken by principal investigator Hedstrom.

“Marcus is at heart an organic chemist who is well on his way to becoming an interdisciplinary scientist of the first order,” says Hedstrom.

The new HHMI fellowship program supports outstanding international pre-doctoral students during years three, four and five of a graduate program studying in the United States. Eligible biomedical related

fields include biology, chemistry, physics, math, computer science, engineering and plant biology—as well as interdisciplinary research.

HHMI will enable 48 exceptionally talented graduate students from 22 countries to devote their full attention to research at a critical time during their professional development as scientists. Each fellow will receive an annual stipend of $43,000, plus an educational allowance. A total of 385 students completed applications which were reviewed by a panel of top scientists and graduate educators.

HHMI chose to start this program—a $2 million commitment in its first year—because it recognized a problem: International students in U.S. graduate schools often have difficulty getting funding to support their studies. For example, they are not eligible for federal education and training grants, state scholarships, or other stipends that are reserved only for U.S. citizens. The Institute chose to fund the third to fifth years of graduate school because, by this time, most students have chosen a graduate advisor, identified a research project, and demonstrated their potential for success in the lab.

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