Hashim Al-Hashimi, PhD, James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry, has received the 2020 National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology. The award is supported by Pfizer Inc. and recognizes a recent notable discovery by a young scientist under the age of 45 who is a citizen of the United States. It comes with a medal and a $25,000 prize. Over the past 50 years the NAS Award in Molecular Biology has recognized many outstanding young biologists and has been a precursor to fourteen Nobel Prizes.
The Academy recognized Al-Hashimi for revealing the dynamic nature of RNA and DNA structures through innovative use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods. Al-Hashimi’s work has shown that down to the atomic level, the three-dimensional structures of DNA and RNA are in constant motion, shifting between different shapes, and that these movements are also important for genetic functions and human disease. This new understanding of DNA and RNA as dynamic structures is deepening our understanding of diseases such as cancer as well as helping to enable the development of new therapeutics that target RNA.
"It is a real honor for me to receive this award,” said Al-Hashimi. “I am grateful to many current and former students and postdoctoral fellows whose hard work is being recognized by this award. I would also like to thank many colleagues and collaborators for their many contributions."
Al-Hashimi is one of 15 scientists receiving awards in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in a wide range of fields spanning the physical, biological, and medical sciences. The winners will be honored in a ceremony on Sunday, April 26, during the National Academy of Sciences’ 157th annual meeting.