Baltimore, MD—The newest member of the staff at the Carnegie Department of Embryology, Junior Investigator Zhao Zhang, received the prestigious Larry Sandler Memorial Award at the 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference of the Genetics Society of America in Chicago the first week of March. The annual award is given for the best research that led to a Ph. D. using Drosophila, the genetically tractable fruit fly that is employed in a wide range of biological and medical research.

Zhang, who joined Carnegie in November 2014, studies how elements with the ability to “jump” around the genome, called transposons, are controlled in egg, sperm, and other somatic tissues in order to understand how transposons contribute to genomic instability and to mutations that lead to inherited disease and cancer. He particularly focuses on transposon control and its consequences in gonads compared to other tissues and has discovered novel connections to how gene transcripts are processed in the nucleus. To accomplish this work, Zhang frequently develops new tools and techniques, a characteristic of many outstanding Carnegie researchers.

Embryology director Allan Spradling remarked, “We congratulate Zhao on this exceptional honor. He is exactly the sort of original, unconventional and self-motivated researcher that Carnegie seeks to support. We look forward to his many accomplishments that lie ahead.”

Zhang received a B.S. in biotechnology from Shandong Agriculture University in Tai-an, China, and an M.S. in cell biology at Beijing Normal University. He was awarded a Ph. D. in November 2013 from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in interdisciplinary studies.
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*”The Larry Sandler Memorial Lecture was established in 1988 by the colleagues, friends and students of Dr. Larry Sandler after his untimely death in 1987. The award serves to honor Dr. Sandler for his many contributions to Drosophila genetics and his exceptional dedication to the training of Drosophila biologists.”