September 14, 2016 by
Graduate student Christopher Ziegler stands in the Botten Lab at the UVM College of Medicine. (Photo: COM Design & Photography)
Winooski, Vt.-based BioTek Instruments announced August 31, 2016 that University of Vermont graduate student Christopher Ziegler is the recipient of the 2016 Norman R. Alpert Research Prize.
The annual prize, named in honor of the late Norman Alpert, Ph.D., BioTek founder and longtime professor and chair of molecular physiology and biophysics at the UVM College of Medicine, recognizes the best peer-reviewed research article by a graduate student in the UVM Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Sciences (CMB) Program.
Ziegler, who works with virologist Jason Botten, Ph.D., UVM assistant professor of medicine, was responsible for characterizing a new aspect of virology that helps to explain the basis for production of defective interfering particles during viral infection. He published his findings in a March 2016 PLoS Pathogens publication, titled “The Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Matrix Protein PPXY Late Domain Drives the Production of Defective Interfering Particles.” Ziegler’s project focused on arenaviruses, which produce a population of both infectious and defective particles. When infected, the production of defective particles are thought to ensure that the host animal does not die, but instead is able to spread the virus to other animals, including humans.
Nicholas Heintz, Ph.D., former CMB program director and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine emeritus, officially announced Ziegler as the winner.
“Chris supplied substantial intellectual capital to the project, and collectively, his findings have important implications for understanding host-pathogen relationships,” said Heintz. “The real surprise in his findings was that the molecular pathways for producing defective and infectious viruses differ, implying that the ratio of the virus particles can be fine-tuned in response to environmental conditions.”
The Norman R. Alpert Research Prize was established by BioTek Instruments in 2014. In addition to being an internationally recognized expert in cardiac hypertrophy, Alpert was passionate about teaching and especially mentoring young scientists. The Alpert Research Prize continues his legacy of encouraging and developing talent at UVM in bioscience fields. Nominated UVM students and their published manuscripts are evaluated for research quality, originality, creativity and impact on the respective field by a UVM faculty-based committee, and the finalist receives a certificate and cash award from BioTek Instruments.
About BioTek Instruments, Inc.
BioTek Instruments, Inc., is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture, and sale of microplate instrumentation and software. These technologies are used to aid life science research, facilitate drug discovery, provide rapid and cost-effective analysis, and enable sensitive, accurate quantification of molecules across diverse applications.
(This article was adapted from a news release produced for BioTek Instruments.)