The following U.S. Department of Energy press release and Brookhaven National Laboratory backgrounder were issued 10/27/98.

DOE contact: Jeff Sherwood, (202)586-5806
BNL contacts: Diane Greenberg or Mona S. Rowe at (516)344-2347 or (516)344-5056

 

 

E. O. Lawrence Awards
Hail Advances in Science

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today named the six winners of the E.O. Lawrence Award, honoring work ranging from the discovery of the biochemical effects of cocaine on the brain to the use of extremely short pulses of laser light to create stop-action images of individual atoms.

Each winner will receive a gold medal, a citation and $15,000.

The award is given for outstanding contributions in the field of atomic energy, which today has influenced many fields of science such as environmental research, materials science and nuclear medicine that were in their infancy in 1960 when the first Lawrence Award was given.

Secretary Richardson said, "Ernest Lawrence's name recalls the American-born and educated scientist who, combining his scientific insights, engineering know-how and personal persistence, exemplifies the beginning of the rise of American science and engineering. The scientists we honor today follow in his footsteps. They have made marvelous contributions to our understanding of who we are and the world around us."

The winners are:

 

The late Dr. Ernest Orlando Lawrence, invented the cyclotron (a particle accelerator). Two major Department of Energy laboratories in Berkeley and Livermore, Calif., are named for him.

Over 2000 scientists and research organizations were invited to make nominations for the award.

Independent review panels recommended the winners and an interagency awards committee reviewed the award process. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., this winter.

Dan G. Cacuci, an applied physicist and nuclear engineer, was honored in the Nuclear Technology category for his methodology for measuring and analyzing the uncertainties of nonlinear mathematical models of processes and systems. Nonlinear processes occur in nuclear technology and virtually every aspect of science and engineering. The mathematical models are used to calculate and analyze results or events, to design products and to predict the behavior of a given system when its underlying parameters are not known exactly and/or change (in space, time, energy, etc.). Prof. Cacuci's work has been applied in many areas, including radiation and particle transport, reactor physics, nonlinear reactor dynamics, reactor safety, nuclear waste disposal, radiation dosimetry and atmospheric sciences.

Joanna Fowler, an organic chemist, will receive the award in the Life Sciences category fordevising innovative ways to attach radioactive isotopes to molecules for research in biology and medicine. These short-lived radioisotopes are used along with imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) to measure and "see" metabolism as it takes place in the brain and other organs. Dr. Fowler has contributed substantially to the popularity of PET technology throughout the world; in her own PET studies, she has made major contributions to our understanding of biochemical processes in addiction, aging and drug action.

Laura H. Greene, a physicist, was honored in the Materials Research category for her pioneering experiments that clarify the behavior of electrons at the surfaces of low and high-temperature superconductors, and what happens to the electrons when they travel into other materials. This knowledge could lead to new and improved applications such as high-speed, energy-efficient electronic circuits.

Steven Koonin will receive his award in the Physics category for his broad impact on nuclear and many-body physics. These fields deal with systems that have many interacting parts, such as the electrons around an atom or the protons and neutrons in a nucleus. Particularly noteworthy are Dr. Koonin's new supercomputer calculations that greatly extend our ability to predict the properties of atomic nuclei on Earth and in the stars.

Mark Thiemens, an isotope chemist, will receive the award in the Environmental Science and Technology category for his development and application of new isotope effects to the atmosphere and his discovery of a class of isotope effects that reveal the photochemical coupling of carbon dioxide to ozone in the stratosphere. These effects provide insights into the chemical interactions of the upper atmosphere with implications in the studies of global climate, solar system evolution and chemical physics. Thiemens' work has helped track greenhouse gases, ozone depletion and acid rain. Tracing new sources of ozone-depleting nitrous oxide, for example, led to voluntary emission controls by chemical manufacturers.

 

Ahmed Zewail, a chemical physicist, will receive the award in the Chemistry category for discovering new ways to view molecular reactions using extremely short pulses of laser light. He has created stop-action images of individual atoms as they react and pass through transition states to their final form. He has explored many new vistas: from the picosecond to the femtosecond (one thousand trillionth of a second) timescale; from the gas phase to clusters, nanocavities, dense fluids and liquids; and from elementary reactions to complex organic and inorganic reactions. The field of femtochemistry, which he pioneered, has already had an impact on chemical, biological and medical research all over the world.

Additional information on the winners and their work is available from their institutions' public affairs offices or the DOE press office at 202/586-5806.

 

- DOE -

 


BNL BACKGROUND INFORMATION -- JOANNA FOWLER

 

Joanna Fowler, a senior chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, has won the U.S. Department of Energy's E.O. Lawrence Award in the Life Sciences category. She is Brookhaven Lab's thirteenth winner of the Lawrence Award since the awards were established in 1960.

Dr. Fowler has devised innovative ways to attach isotopes to molecules of biological and medical interest, and has thus contributed substantially to the popularity and widespread use of positron emission tomography (PET) throughout the world.

PET is a technology that measures metabolism in the brain, thereby providing images that reflect the functioning of a subject's brain. To visually document changes in the brain, a PET research subject is injected with a short-lived radioisotope that is attached to one of a number of compounds that bind to specific brain sites. The radiotracer emits energy that is recorded by detectors in the PET instrument, which signal the location and concentration to a computer. The computer translates these data into an image of brain activity.

The chemical challenge in PET research is to incorporate radioactive isotopes into the complex organic compounds that can be used as probes for specific biological targets. The short lives of these isotopes - for example, carbon-11 has a half-life of only 20.4 minutes - place very strict limitations on the methods that can be used.

During the early part of her career, Dr. Fowler took on the challenge of labeling biologically interesting molecules with radiotracers, in order to track and study the molecules. In 1976, Dr. Fowler and her colleagues developed 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), a short-lived radiotracer that mimics glucose. FDG is currently used in PET centers around the world as a basic scientific tool in the neurosciences, to diagnose and study neurological and psychiatric diseases, to diagnose lung and colon cancer, and to aid in the treatment of heart disease.

Using carbon-11-labeled cocaine, Dr. Fowler was the first to show the binding sites of cocaine in the human brain. The Brookhaven group is generally acknowledged to be the leader in using PET technology to understand the pharmacological actions and addictive properties of cocaine in humans.

Dr. Fowler has also developed radiotracers for mapping the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO), a molecular target of drugs used to treat depression and Parkinson's disease. Recently, Dr. Fowler and her colleagues discovered that smokers - who are less prone to Parkinson's disease - have an average of 40 percent less MAO, which breaks down dopamine, a chemical substance in that brain that is important in movement, motivation and reward. The study suggests that an undetermined substance in cigarette smoke inhibits the enzyme, which may keep dopamine levels up. Findings such as these offer important clues to understanding addiction and the epidemiological features of smoking.

As head of Brookhaven National Laboratory's PET Research Group, Dr. Fowler has helped the PET facility at Brookhaven gain worldwide renown for its excellent research. Recently, she has also been active in bringing Brookhaven's Center for Imaging and Neurosciences to fruition. Researchers at the center use PET, magnetic resonance imaging and single photon emission computed tomography to investigate the workings of the human brain. Ongoing studies of addiction are under way, as well as investigations into the biochemical nature of obesity and aging.

Born in 1942 in Miami, Florida, Joanna Fowler earned her B.S. from the University of South Florida in 1964 and her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 1967. Except for a year as a senior research associate at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, she has spent her entire career at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Dr. Fowler's many honors include: twice the recipient of the Jacob Javits Investigator Award in the Neurosciences, first in 1986 (with Brookhaven Lab chemist Alfred P. Wolf) and again in 1992; the Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Interest from the American Chemical Society in 1988; Brookhaven National Laboratory's R&D Award in 1994; the Paul Aebersold Award from the Society of Nuclear Medicine in 1997; the Biological and Environmental Research 50 Program Recognition Award for Exceptional Service presented by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Research Council in 1997; and the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal from the American Chemical Society in 1998.

 

Among her professional activities, Dr. Fowler is on the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and on the Board of Directors of the Society for Nuclear Imaging in Drug Research. Also, she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine. She has published more than 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and she holds eight patents for radiolabeling procedures.

NOTE TO LOCAL EDITORS: Joanna Fowler is a resident of Bellport, New York.