The Rockefeller University will honor civic leader and philanthropist
Brooke Astor and award honorary doctorate degrees to scientists Sydney Brenner,
D.Phil., a pioneer of modern molecular genetics, and Viktor Hamburger, Ph.D., a
founder of developmental neurobiology, at the institution's 38th commencement
exercises, Thursday, June 13, 1996.
At graduation 25 students from seven countries, including Armenia, Bulgaria,
China, India, Singapore, Romania and the United States, will receive doctoral
degrees. The students include six enrolled in the M.D.-Ph.D. program offered
jointly by the university, Cornell University Medical College and
"After finishing their graduate studies at The Rockefeller University, our
students will pursue research careers worldwide. We look forward to their
advancement and the achievements they will make," says Torsten N. Wiesel, M.D.,
president of the university.
Holding with tradition, The Rockefeller University commencement has no
speaker. Rather, faculty mentors introduce each student and describe his or her
research after which they receive their hoods and President Wiesel presents
Astor is the second recipient of the David Rockefeller Award, which recognizes
an individual from the university's community whose extraordinary service
exemplifies David Rockefeller's commitment to the institution. The award
acknowledges "unswerving enthusiasm for its scientists and a deep concern for
the progress of their research; selfless dedication to further the university's
mission and strengthening the institution; and an unstinting effort to enlist
others to join in supporting biomedical science for the benefit of humankind."
The first award was presented to David Rockefeller himself in June 1995, in
recognition of his 55 years of distinguished service on the university's board
The award is named for David Rockefeller, the 81-year-old grandson of the
university's founder, John D. Rockefeller Sr., who has served the school since
1940. He became chairman of the board of trustees in 1950, succeeding his
father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and served until 1975, a period during which
he shepherded the institute's transformation into a university. From 1975 to
1995, he chaired the board's executive committee and with his retirement in
June 1995, the board named him a life trustee and honorary chairman.
Astor is president of the Vincent Astor Foundation, which was founded by her
late husband, Vincent Astor, who died in 1959. Since its establishment in
1948, the Foundation has given away more than $165 million in some 2,400 grants
to New York institutions and programs including the New York Zoological
Society, the New York Botanical Garden, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the South
Street Seaport and the New York Public Library, for which she serves as
honorary chairman. The Metropolitan Museum of Art also has benefited from her
Astor joined the Rockefeller University board of trustees in 1972 and she was
elected the institution's first life trustee in 1983. In 1974, Astor
established two Vincent Astor Professorships at the university, which are held
by Paul Greengard, head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular
Neuroscience, and James E. Darnell Jr., head of the Laboratory of Molecular
Cell Biology. In 1980, she established the Vincent and Brooke Astor
Professorship, held by Wiesel.
Brenner worked at the M.R.C. Laboratory of Molecular Biology in
Cambridge, U.K., which he directed from 1979 to 1986. He is an honorary
professor of genetic medicine at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of
King's College, Cambridge. His research revealed the general nature of the
genetic code and the identity of messenger RNA, the molecules that transfer
genetic information from the DNA sequences of genes for the synthesis of
proteins. Later he initiated an entire new area of developmental genetics
centered on the nematode, C. elegans.
He received his master of science degree in 1947 and medical degress
(M.B.,B.Ch.) in 1951, both from the University of Witwatersrand in
Johannesburg, South Africa and a doctorate of philosophy in 1954 from Oxford
University. His honors include the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award, the
Royal Medal and Copley medal of the Royal Society, the Kyoto Prize and the King
Faisal International Prize for Science.
Hamburger is the E. Mallinckrodt Distinguished Professor Emeritus at
Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. A key contributor in the field of
experimental embryology, he pioneered studies on the growth and development of
the nervous system. A native of Germany, he received his doctorate degree in
1925 from the University of Freiburg. From 1941 to 1968, he served as chairman
and professor of zoology at Washington University, joining the emeriti faculty
Among his awards are the Horwitz Prize, the U.S. National Medal of Science and
the Karl Lashley Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences
(U.S.A.), the Society of Developmental Biology and the International Society of
The 1996 graduating students and their thesis topics follow. Students marked
with * also will receive a medical degree from Cornell University:
Miriam Berman, B.A.
Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1(PECAM-1): Adhesive Properties
and Roles in Leukocyte Migration and Integrin Activation
Claudio Bertuccioli, B.A., M.S.
In vivo Structure-Function Analysis of the Paired Segmentation Gene:
A Paradigm for Pax Gene Function
*Sandy Chang, B.S.
MacMARCKS and the Protein Kinase C Signal Transduction Pathway: Role in
Neural Secretion and Development
Sek-Jin Chew, M.B.B.S., M.S.
An Ethological Framework for Understanding Long-term Memory
*Wendy Chung, B.A.
Molecular Genetic Analysis of Rodent Models of Non-insulin-dependent
Firdaus Dhabhar, A.B.
Stress-Induced Enhancement of Antigen-Specific Cell-Mediated Immunity: The
Role of Hormones and Leukocyte Trafficking
*Athanasios Dousmanis, B.Sc., M.Sc.
The Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator (CFTR) Channel:
Gating by ATP Hydrolysis and Anion Selectivity
Brian Guenther, B.S.
Structural Studies of the DNA Replication Apparatus: X-ray Crystal Structure
of the ´ Subunit of Escherichia coli DNA Polymerase III
Carole Landisman, B.S.E.E.
The Organization of Color Processing in Macaque Striate Cortex
Xiao-Lin Liu, M.D., M.A., M.S.
Cloning, Characterization and Functional Studies of Mouse Notch 2 in the
Development of Cerebellar Granule Neurons
Arthur Maghakian, M.S.
Direct Photon Cross Section Measurement in Proton-Antiproton Collisions at
s = 1800 GeV
Christopher Marshall, Vor-Diplom
The Involvement of c-Abl in Crk and Neuropeptide Signaling
Robert McGrath, B.S.
Molecular Genetic Analysis of Cyclic GMP Signaling in Higher Plants
Christina McKittrick, B.S.
Physiological, Endocrine and Neurochemical Consequences of Chronic Social
*Christopher Min, A.B.
Functional Reconstitution of Recombinant Heterotrimeric Transducin:
Mechanism of Phosphodiesterase Activation
Junona Moroianu, M.S.
Molecular Mechanisms of Nuclear Protein Transport in Mammalian Cells
Dimitar Nikolov, M.Sc.
Structural Studies of TATA Box Binding Protein and Transcription Factor
*Estela O'Brien, B.A., M.A.
The Functional Organization of the Mammalian Visual Cortex as Revealed by
Optical Imaging of Intrinsic Signals
Jun Qin, B.S., M.S.
Trapping Gene Products: New Tools for Studying Proteins
Arthur Tinkelenberg, B.A.
A Genetic Analysis of G1 Cyclin Function in Budding Yeast Cell Cycle
*Edward Vates, B.S.
The Interface Between Auditory and Motor Circuits for Vocal Learning in
David Wilson, Jr., A.B.
DNA Recognition and Cooperative Dimerization by the Homeodomain
Xiaodong Wu, B.A., M.S.
Structural Basis for the Recognition of Proline-rich Peptides by Crk SH3
Domain: A Crystallographic Analysis
Lori Zeltser, A.B.
Hoxb-13: Colinear Expression of a New Hox Gene in a Distant Region of
the HOXB Cluster
Chen Zheng, M.A.
Astrotactin: A Novel CNS Gene That Functions in Glial-guided Neuronal