Upstate News

May 4, 2010
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Upstate’s Joseph Sanger wins top scientific honor from national anatomy society

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Joseph W. Sanger, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at SUNY Upstate Medical University, has been named the recipient of the 2010 Henry Gray/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Scientific Achievement Award from the American Association of Anatomist’s. This award is the AAA’s most prestigious scientific honor and recognizes unique and meritorious contributions to and achievements in anatomical sciences by a distinguished AAA member. Sanger received the award April 27 at the AAA annual meeting.

Sanger’s selection was based on his significant contributions to and leadership in the cytoskeletal and myofibrillogenesis fields of cell biology. He has been a leader for the past 35 years in the application of fluorescently dye coupled proteins to determine the mechanisms of cell division (1975), the formation of the contractile units (myofibrils) in embryonic cardiac and skeletal muscle cells (1980s, 1990s), and actin based motility of infectious bacteria in and on the surfaces of infected host cells (1990s).

With the development of Green Fluorescent Protein encoding plasmids, Sanger and his lab were the first to apply this approach to the assembly of myofibrils in embryonic cardiomyocytes (1997), the targeting of titin domains to myofibrils (1997), and to cells infected with infectious E. coli strains (2000). This past year, he led his group in the first imaging of GFP family tagged muscle proteins to follow the assembly and dynamics of these proteins inside skeletal muscle cells in living zebrafish (2009). The use of plasmids encoding members of Green Fluorescent proteins has been a major catalyst for the study of processes in living cells. Sanger has been a pioneer of its use in muscle cells. He has had continuous support for his experimental work from the National Institutes of Health since 1973.

Sanger received his bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College in New York, and then attended Dartmouth College, where he received his Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1968. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and received his first appointment there as assistant professor there in 1972. He was named professor of anatomy at Penn in 1985 and interim chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.

Sanger was appointed chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in 2006.

Among Sanger’s many honors, he was an Elected Trustee of the Bermuda Biological Station, a Humboldt Fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Heidelberg), and an Elected Executive Trustee at the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, Mass). He is a Fellow of AAAS, and a corporation member of the Marine Biological Laboratory.

This past March, he was awarded a Plaque of Honor Award for his basic research discoveries from the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Science at the annual Conference of the Indian Society for Human Genetics held this year in Lucknow, India.

Sanger has published more than 150 full-length papers and contributed to multiple books. He has served on the editorial boards of many respected journals, is currently associate editor of Cytoskeleton, and continues to be a member of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute since it was founded in 1973. He has been an active AAA member since 1974, is an AAA Fellow, and currently serves on the AAA Board of Directors (2008-2011).

Sanger resides in Syracuse.

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