University of Pittsburgh
May 9, 2001

PITT SELECTED FOR BECKMAN SCHOLARS PROGRAM First Two Undergraduate Researchers Named

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, May 10 -- The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has selected the University of Pittsburgh to participate in its Beckman Scholars Program (BSP), one of the nation's foremost programs supporting undergraduate research in biochemistry, chemistry, and biological and medical sciences. An interdisciplinary program, the BSP is being offered jointly through Pitt's Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Bioengineering, and Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. The Department of Biological Sciences will administer the grant, which for the next three years will provide funding annually for two undergraduate researchers for three years.

Pitt's first two Beckman Scholars, both molecular biology majors, were chosen last week: Robert J. Lee, a junior from Grapeville, PA, and William H. McCoy IV, a senior from Sewickley, PA.

Lee will work with Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Jeffrey Brodsky on his project, "The Role of the Proteasome in the Export of Proteins During ER-Associated Protein Degradation."

"We are studying how this part of the cellular machinery, the proteasome, works to recognize and dispose of misfolded or mutated secretory proteins," said Lee.

McCoy will work in Professor of Biological Sciences Linda Jen-Jacobson's lab on the project, "An Energetic Analysis of the Reduced Specificity Exhibited by the E192K Mutant of EcoRI Restriction Endonuclease."

"My project will help to expand our understanding of the rules governing specificity in protein-DNA interactions, and in so doing it will shed light on other recognition processes in which macromolecules play a role, such as protein-RNA interactions in signal recognition particles and protein-protein interactions in membrane receptors," said McCoy.

The BSP is an invited program: the Beckman Foundation pre-selects universities, based on rigid criteria ensuring quality undergraduate research, to apply for grants. The BSP was created to stimulate, encourage, and support research activities by exceptionally talented undergraduate students pursuing their studies at accredited universities and four-year colleges in the United States.

Each Beckman Fellow will be supported for two summers (10 weeks each, $5,500 per summer) and the intervening academic year ($3,600). At the end of each program Pitt's scholars will join all of the Beckman Scholars at a symposium held at one of the five Beckman Institutes, at the California Institute of Technology; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; City of Hope Hospital and Medical Center; Stanford University; and Beckman Laser Institute.

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation is an independent, non-profit foundation established in September 1977 to support basic scientific research, primarily in the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, and medicine. The Beckmans funded the foundation through shares of common stock in Beckman Instruments, Inc., and have contributed approximately $350 million to the advancement of research and education.