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[November 20, 2008]

SUNY Downstate Scholar Wins Young Scientist Honor:
Dr. Andrey Pisarev Receives Blavatnik Award  

Andrey Pisarev, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, has received a 2008 Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists from the New York Academy of Sciences. The awards recognize the most promising young scientists and engineers in the tri-state area.

Dr. Pisarev was nominated in the postdoctoral category for his research in cell and molecular biology and was one of five faculty and postdoctoral winners out of 16 finalists. 
The awards, each carrying an unrestricted cash prize of $15,000 for the winning postdoctoral fellows and $25,000 for the winning faculty, were presented at the Academy's 5th annual Science & the City Gala on Nov. 17. The audience included six Nobel Prize winners, heads of major research institutions, and leaders from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

At SUNY Downstate, Dr Pisarev has been working in the laboratory of Dr. Tatyana Pestova. In his experiments, Dr. Pisarev uses 15 different individually purified and characterized proteins from cell lysates to reconstitute the process of translation in vitro. He explains: “This approach allows us to study the mechanism of the process step-by-step and to generate more profound explanations of the roles of different components in the process.”

His work has revealed the mechanisms of the last two stages of translation—termination and ribosomal recycling—that has filled a 30-year-old gap in the scientific community’s understanding of protein synthesis in the human cell. He says this new knowledge “should ultimately aid in the development of medicines that target genetic diseases associated with the formation of short protein forms.”

Recently, Dr. Pisarev’s research yielded the discovery of the protein Helicase DHX29, which participates in the synthesis of oncogenes and growth factors. He plans to continue studying this protein, believing it may lead to a cure for cancer.

The seven finalists in the postdoctoral category included fellows from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Rockefeller University, and Yale. Fifty-three distinguished scientists served as judges.

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SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a Graduate Public Health Program, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks eighth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools.  More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.