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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 13, 2004

Distinguished Mentoring Award, Lecture Is Sept. 29

Jeffrey C. Murray, M.D., professor of pediatrics in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has been named the recipient of the college's third annual Award for Distinguished Mentoring.

Murray will receive the award during a ceremony and lecture from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29 in the Dr. Prem Sahai Auditorium of the Medical Education and Biomedical Research Facility (MERF).

Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., American Cancer Society Professor and professor of genome sciences and medicine (medical genetics) at the University of Washington, will deliver the third annual Distinguished Mentor's Lecture, titled, "Race, Genes and Medicine."

The Distinguished Mentoring Award honors UI Carver College of Medicine faculty members whose careers have emphasized the mentoring of students, postdoctoral research fellows and faculty who have forged their own notable careers. The Distinguished Mentor's Lecture highlights the award for mentoring by bringing to the UI world-class scientists who embody the ideals of the award and its recipient. The award was initially established and is supported by a gift to the UI Foundation from UI graduates Nancy and Daryl Granner, M.D., of North Liberty, Iowa.

A UI faculty member since 1984, Murray is widely regarded as an outstanding clinician, researcher and teacher. His clinical activities center on newborn medicine and care of children born with birth defects. His research incorporates genetics, molecular biology, embryology and epidemiology to study birth defects, particularly cleft lip and palate. He has been active in a variety of international studies to provide improved treatment and prevention for birth defects.

Recently, researchers from eight countries, led by Murray's UI research team, reported identifying a genetic variation that increases the risk of a baby being born with a cleft lip and palate. The finding helps explain 10 to 15 percent of all cases of the common form of cleft lip and palate and offers new directions for predicting, preventing and treating the condition (

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in Murray's laboratory take on leadership roles in research studies and assume primary responsibility for project design and implementation. In the recent cleft lip and palate finding, Theresa Zucchero, a doctoral student in the UI Interdisciplinary Program in Genetics, played a key role in getting the project under way and helped organize DNA testing of thousands of study participants -- a major collaborative effort among multiple labs in Asia, Europe and South America. UI undergraduate students also work in Murray's laboratory.

King, who will deliver the Distinguished Mentor's Lecture, is internationally recognized as a groundbreaking researcher and an advocate for using science to advance human rights. She is perhaps best known for her 1990 discovery that mutations in a single gene, today known as BRCA1, cause breast cancer in certain high-risk families. King's finding was a watershed moment in genetics research and has been emulated by scientists studying other serious illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and prostate cancer.

King's research accomplishments are shaped by her compassion and underlying sense of humanism. She has worked to use genetic evidence to help reunite families who were separated or destroyed during Argentina's political struggles of the 1970s and 1980s. King has carried out DNA identifications for the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal, and she and her colleagues remain involved in efforts to use genetic testing to identify victims of human rights abuses in many parts of the world.

Nancy and Daryl Granner received their bachelor's degrees at the UI in 1958, and Daryl also received a master's and medical degrees from the UI in 1962.

Granner served as the head of the endocrinology division at the UI from 1975 to 1984. Today he is professor and head of the Vanderbilt University Diabetes Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Granner feels strongly about the value of mentorship, based on his own experiences as a young scientist. He credited former UI anatomy professor Nick Halmi for sparking his interest in laboratory research and teaching, and he acknowledged Gordon Tomkins, who was a major influence when Granner did postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health.

"Both of these men were incredibly intelligent, and they both possessed a real joy of learning and discovery. This had a tremendous impact on me, and I was fortunate to have had the privilege to learn from them.

"I have a longstanding appreciation for the University of Iowa, so the Distinguished Mentoring program is a way for me to pay homage to these people and others who guide the careers of young scientists," Granner continued. "My involvement in this program is simply a matter of recognizing your intellectual ancestors and giving back something back in return."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032,