Duane Grandgenett, Ph.D., is considered the "father of integrase." Photo by Chad Williams
The award is one of seven that will be presented on April 13 at the 17th annual Outstanding Scientist Awards dinner, which honors top scientists and engineers from the St. Louis region.
Grandgenett is a pioneering researcher whose basic science discoveries about how retroviruses spread have lead to new treatments for HIV. For more than three decades, he has focused on integrase, an enzyme that starts a process that allows HIV to put its genetic material into a person's DNA, which leads to the spread of infected cells.
Grandgenett is considered the "father of integrase" because he characterized the structure and mechanism of the enzyme, which is a critical step in understanding the retrovirus life cycle.
Building in part on his knowledge and on the studies of numerous investigators, a pharmaceutical company has developed a new and effective medication for HIV/AIDS, which afflicts about 33 million people worldwide.
Grandgenett has been at Saint Louis University since he arrived at the Institute of Molecular Virology as a postdoctoral fellow in 1971. He sees educating young scientists and inspiring students as among his greatest contributions to his field. He has mentored postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, medical students, undergraduate and high school students in his laboratory and taught middle school students what it takes to have a career in scientific research. For a decade he served as director of Saint Louis University's Cell and Molecular Biology graduate program.
The author of about 100 scientific papers and book chapters, Grandgenett has served as a reviewer on an assortment of National Institutes of Health study sections.
He says the ultimate goal of his research is to ease the suffering of people who are sick.
"As long as someone's walking around who's now healthier, that's what counts," Grandgenett said.
In being named to receive the Fellows award, Grandgenett is in good company. Raymond Slavin, M.D., professor of internal medicine and molecular microbiology and immunology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and Robert Belshe, M.D., director of the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development, had been recognized with the Fellows award.
Alexander Rubin, Ph.D., an adjunct professor in the department of aerospace and mechanical engineering, will received the James B. Eades Award, which recognizes an individual for outstanding achievement in engineering and technology.
A senior technical fellow at The Boeing Company, Rubin is an internationally recognized expert in composite materials, structures and analysis. He was an innovator in the development of an affordable solution for processing structural thermoplastic composites for aerospace applications, which are now used on military and commercial products.
Rubin is being recognized for his innovative research, patents, publications and awards as well as his international leadership of research and development projects and his work at Saint Louis University, where he teaches and mentors students.
Lifetime Achievement, Science Leadership, Trustees and Educator awards also will be presented at the dinner.
The Academy of Science-St. Louis is a 155-year-old organization dedicated to promoting the advancement and understanding of science, engineering and technology in the St. Louis region.