Hudson Hoagland Society honors Warner Fletcher

29th meeting features talks by Lawrence, Ceol

By Mark L. Shelton

UMass Medical School Communications

May 16, 2014
Chancellor Michael F. Collins (left) and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology Thoru Pederson (right) were among those honoring Warner Fletcher at the annual meeting of the Hudson Hoagland Society.
Chancellor Michael F. Collins (left) and professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology Thoru Pederson (right) were among those honoring Warner Fletcher at the annual meeting of the Hudson Hoagland Society.

The Hudson Hoagland Society honored longtime Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research (WFBR) board member and benefactor Warner S. Fletcher at the 29th annual meeting on May 13. The foundation’s Hudson Hoagland Award, given to someone who has "demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the advancement of basic science research,” was presented to Fletcher by Chancellor Michael F. Collins and Thoru Pederson, PhD, the Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and scientific director of the WFBR when it merged with UMass Medical School in 1997.

A partner at the law firm Fletcher Tilton and a longtime Worcester Foundation trustee and donor, Fletcher has been a devoted patron of the biomedical research, discovery and innovation taking place in Worcester. In addition to serving on the WFBR board of trustees for the better part of 28 years beginning in 1980, he was a member of the Hudson Hoagland Society Executive Committee from 1986 to 2005, serving as its chair from 1987 to 1994.

Chancellor Collins also announced a new endowed chair made possible by prudent investment of the WFBR endowment, which has been used to support research by UMMS faculty since the merger. The new chair, to be formally invested at Convocation on Sept. 18, will be called the “Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair,” and be held by Vivian Budnik, PhD, interim chair and professor of neurobiology.

Dr. Pederson also announced the six Worcester Foundation research grants, which each year support faculty proposals that allow talented scientists to explore new, groundbreaking ideas and serve to fill critical funding gaps while waiting for federal research grants. New this year was the endowment of one of the grants by the Bassick Family Foundation; now, three of the Worcester Foundation annual grants are named for generous supporters. Recipients this year are:

  • Maryann Munson, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology (the Bassick Family Foundation Award);
  • Jie Song, PhD, associate professor of orthopedics & physical rehabilitation (the Mel Cutler Award);
  • Jill Zitzewitz, PhD, research associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology (the Morton H. Sigel Award);
  • Daryl Bosco, PhD, associate professor of neurology;
  • David Guertin, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine and cancer biology; and
  • Nathan Lawson, PhD, associate professor of molecular medicine in the Program in Gene Function and Expression.

The annual meeting featured talks by Jeanne B. Lawrence, PhD, interim chair and professor of cell & developmental biology, who spoke about her groundbreaking research into Down Syndrome, in which her lab demonstrated that the entire extra chromosome responsible for the disorder can be silenced; and Craig J. Ceol, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine and cancer biology—and a 2011 Worcester Foundation grant recipient. Dr. Ceol uses a novel model organism, the zebrafish, to identify genes responsible for promoting melanoma.

The Hudson Hoagland Society was founded in 1985 and continues to build upon 29 years of discovery and extraordinary advancements. Named in honor of the co-founder of the WFBR, the Hudson Hoagland Society supports basic scientific research that enables UMass Medical School scientists to make advances that have the potential to improve treatments and to speed the discovery of new medicines for countless diseases and afflictions.

  • Chancellor Michael F. Collins opens the Hudson Hoagland Society’s 29th Annual Meeting on May 14.
  • (from left) Chancellor Collins (left) and Thoru Pederson (right) presented the Hudson Hoagland Award to longtime Worcester Foundation board member Warner Fletcher.
  • Benefactors Barbara Greenberg and Joan Freedman were among those in attendance.
  • Craig Ceol presents “Fishing for cancer genes: finding new melanoma genes and drug targets” as Dean Terence Flotte looks on.
  • Nancy Erb takes the microphone to ask a question about the research while husband Elisha listens at her left.
  • Keynote speaker Jeanne Lawrence discussed her groundbreaking research on Down Syndrome.
  • HHS charter members (from left) Judith and Thoru Pederson, M. Howard and Frances Jacobson and Warner and Mary Fletcher.
  • Sandra Mayrand, founder of UMass Medical School’s Regional Science Resource Center, and husband Jeffrey Gallagher.