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In 2011, the Department of Genetics established the "Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetics" to honor the legacy of our friend and colleague Dr. Tom Kadesch. Dr. Kadesch was a member of the Genetics department from 1984 until his death in 2011, and served as Interim Chairman for his final 4 years. He was not only an excellent scientist, but also a tremendously dedicated mentor, teacher and University citizen whose contributions inspired those around him. In his memory, with the help of many generous donors, we were able to set up an endowed fund that will support in perpetuity an annual award to "a graduate student demonstrating excellence in research achievement and citizenship".
We are pleased to announce that this year's Tom Kadesch Prize in Genetic Research will be awarded to Dr. Celine Santiago. Celine recently completed her PhD in the Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB) graduate group, and performed her thesis work in the lab of Dr. Greg Bashaw. Her research focused on how transcription factors control neuronal connectivity. Using the Drosophila embryo as a model system, she showed that conserved transcription factors Hb9 and Islet promote expression of guidance receptors Roundabout (Robo) and Frazzled (DCC) to direct axon and dendrite targeting. She also discovered a new cell non-autonomous role for Robo2 that promotes axon midline crossing. These projects resulted in first-author (or co-first-author) publications in Cell Reports and eLife, with a third manuscript currently under review. In addition to her research accomplishments, Celine has been very involved in scientific outreach. She worked as a monthly tutor for elementary school students through the Philadelphia Science Education Academy, and she worked with public high school teachers (and their students) to bring Drosophila into their lab courses. Celine also worked as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate genetics course BIOL221, and she mentored junior students in the Bashaw lab.
The Kadesch prize will be presented to Dr. Santiago at a special session of the Genetics Friday Research Talks on November 18, 2016 (12:30pm in Austrian Auditorium CRB). In addition to receiving a $1000 cash prize, Dr. Santiago will present a short seminar on her research. Please join us in congratulating her and make plans to attend the award ceremony and seminar on November 18.
Shelley Berger, Douglas Epstein, Mitch Lazar, Celeste Simon, Meera Sundaram