Philadelphia (October 10, 2011) – Two internationally recognized scientists with strong Philadelphia ties are to receive the John Scott Award this year. The award ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 4, 2011 in the Ashhurst Room of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, located at 19 South 22nd Street.
The John Scott Award award is named after a Scottish chemist and philanthropist who had a love of Philadelphia and deep admiration for Ben Franklin. It is given to the “most deserving” men and women whose inventions have contributed in some outstanding way to the “comfort, welfare and happiness” of mankind. Nominations of individuals for the award are made by a committee of Philadelphians to the Board of Directors of City Trusts of the City of Philadelphia.
This year, the John Scott Award goes to Jenny Pickworth Glusker, DSc, and David E. Kuhl, MD. Both scientists are credited with scientific discoveries that opened up a whole new way of examining cellular metabolism in the human body. Each recipient’s research led to their two separate, dramatic scientific breakthroughs of the late 20th centBoth scientists are credited with scientific discoveries that opened up a whole new way of examining cellular metabolism in the human body. Each recipient’s research led to their two separate, dramatic scientific breakthroughs of the late 20th century.
Dr. Glusker contributed to the discovery of the chemical formula for Vitamin B12. This important milestone in chemistry unlocked the shape of this largest molecule at the time, and, ultimately, the clues to how it works. Today, B12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is commonly found in a variety of foods and human cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency is also commonly found in the elderly. “I just did what chemists love to do – find out how and why things work,” said Jenny Glusker, D. Sc. Her career began in her native England where she studied and worked at University of Oxford. She then went on to work at the California Institute of Technology before landing in Philadelphia at Fox Chase Cancer Center where she has since spent the last 50 years. Her work in cancer research has included the determination of the structures of numerous anti-tumor agents and chemical carcinogens. She has also investigated the structures and possible mechanisms of action of several biological enzymes.
Dr. Kuhl is receiving the award because of his pioneering discoveries that led to the Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Today, these two imaging techniques are used in a majority of hospitals around the world and allow diagnosticians and clinicians to visualize cross sectional imaging of patients by using radioactive tracers. “This has been an evolution which involved many people. It’s all very exciting because PET offers better data, extraordinary chemistry and better pictures,” said Dr. Kuhl. “Not only does it enable physicians to see into the body, he added, this diagnostic imaging shows the metabolic and neurochemical processes as well.” Dr. Kuhl earned his medical degree in 1955 at the University of Pennsylvania, completed his residency training at Penn and rose through the academic ranks of the Penn faculty to achieve the title of Professor of Radiology in 1970. After 1976, he continued on to academic positions at both UCLA and the University of Michigan.
The John Scott award has a long history of highly distinguished recipients. Dr. Saul Perlmutter, Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley and Senior Fellow of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who won the Scott award in 2005, won the Nobel Prize for Physics this year. (2011) He was awarded the Nobel “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae.” Dr. Perlmutter received the John Scott Award “for his contributions to the discovery of some of the most distant supernovae and for making the first measurements of the cosmological constant. His work has led to unlocking the secrets of our universe and to developing promising new technologies that can have major impacts on basic science.”
Other prior honorees include Dr. Christian J. Lambertsen (2010) for his invention of the underwater breathing apparatus known as SCUBA; Dr. Bert Vogelstein (2003) who established a molecular basis for colon cancer; Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg (1998) who studied the relationship of the hepatitis B virus to hepatitis and liver cancer; Jonas E. Salk (1954) for discovering the Salk Poliomyelitis vaccine; and Sir Alexander Fleming (1944) for his discovery of Penicillin. The award, which dates back to 1834, includes a cash prize in addition to a copper medal and a certificate. John J. Egan, Jr., President of the Board of Directors of City Trusts said, “The award to these two remarkable scientists fulfills the original intent of the late John Scott -- which is part of our mission at the Board of Directors of City Trusts -- to carry out those final wishes. We applaud Drs. Glusker and Kuhl for their distinguished careers and are so grateful that the City of Philadelphia also greatly benefited from their passion, curiosity and determination to advance the fields of science and medicine.”