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by Brookhaven Science Associates, a company
founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle
Brookhaven Town Honors Brookhaven Lab Chemist
UPTON, NY - Diane Cabelli, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, was among eleven women honored for their accomplishments and contributions to Brookhaven Town at the Town-sponsored Women’s Recognition Night on March 20. The Town held the special ceremony in observance of National Women’s History Month. Cabelli was honored for her contributions to science.
“My 22-year career in chemistry at Brookhaven Lab has been both challenging and exciting,” Cabelli said. “I am honored that Brookhaven Town is recognizing my work.”
Cabelli uses an electron accelerator to generate and study radicals, unstable molecular species that cause damage in biological systems. In the mid-1980s, she began work on superoxide dismutases (SOD), enzymes that detoxify certain radicals produced by respiration. This research has remained her passion.
Recently, Cabelli has been studying the role of SOD in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In ALS, the motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord degenerate, which results in paralysis. The disease is usually fatal within five years of the onset of symptoms.
A large variety of mutations in SOD account for approximately 20 percent of the hereditary cases of ALS. Collaborators send mutant SOD samples to Cabelli for analysis, which can then be correlated with other properties of the enzyme, so that improved
understanding of its action and its role in the disease can be developed. Such research may lead to effective treatment or prevention of the disease.
In addition to making significant original contributions to her field, Cabelli has mentored high school students in chemistry. Most recently, she mentored a Jericho High School student on a project she submitted to the 2003 Intel competition, for which the student won semifinalist status. Cabelli has also volunteered to act as a judge in various science fairs, and she has been a participant in Brookhaven Women in Science Career Day, sharing her insights and experiences as a scientist with local high school girls.
Cabelli earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bryn Mawr College, in 1973, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, in 1979. She then worked at the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, from 1980 to 1981, studying paint pigments in medieval Armenian gospel books. She joined Brookhaven Lab as a research associate in the Chemistry Department in 1981, and she worked her way up to chemist in 1995. Also, since 1995, Cabelli has served as the Environment, Safety & Health Coordinator for Brookhaven’s Chemistry Department.
> Hi-res image of Diane Cabelli, 300 dpi jpeg.