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Reed College Honors Pioneering Geneticist

The Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology will be presented to Stanley Fields on Wednesday, August 22.

Fields Vollum AwardPORTLAND, OR (August 21, 2007) – Stanley Fields, who holds the positions of Professor of Genome Sciences, Professor of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Microbiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, will receive the Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology at Reed College on Wednesday.

“Stanley Fields has repeatedly demonstrated his ability and willingness to take on the questions generated in the post-genomic era by not only facing, but embracing, biological complexity,” said Janis Shampay, molecular biologist and chair of Reed’s biology department. “Fields came to the attention of the Vollum Award committee,” said Shampay, “with a strong recommendation from Edwin Krebs, Nobel Prize-winning chemist and 1996 Vollum Award recipient, who describes Fields as ‘Nobel caliber.’”

The Vollum Award, established in 1975 as a tribute to the late C. Howard Vollum, a 1936 Reed graduate and lifelong friend of the college, is presented each year at opening convocation ceremonies for incoming students and their families. Winners are selected for the perseverance, fresh approach to problems and solutions, and creative imagination that characterized Vollum's career. Vollum was the founder of Tektronix, Inc., a leading technology firm in the Pacific Northwest that pioneered development of the oscilloscope and other devices. Over the years, Vollum and his wife, Jean, gave millions of dollars, most of it anonymously, in support of education, research, social programs, and the arts. The Vollums’ generous support of Reed was at one time crucial to the college’s survival; later, annual support made possible the growing financial health of the institution.

Fields received his undergraduate degree in biology from Middlebury College and his doctoral degree in molecular biology from Cambridge University. As a postdoctoral fellow, he worked with the late Ira Herskowitz, a leading figure at the University of California–San Francisco, during which time he was introduced to the genetics of a “simple” one-celled organism: baker's yeast.

Fields created the two-hybrid system, a powerful general method for detecting protein-protein interactions in living cells. Fields analyzes the function of proteins from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) on a genome-wide basis and uses this yeast to develop assays that can be applied to proteins from any organism.

Ongoing significant interests of the Fields lab lie in DNA, RNA, protein, and metabolite methodologies.

In 1997, Fields won appointment as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, one of 300 biomedical researchers selected through national competition to receive on-going research funding. The current group of HHMI investigators includes 11 Nobel Prize winners and 122 members of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences voted Fields into their ranks in 2000. In 2004, Fields was appointed to the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, which offers advice on policy issues and the implementation of programs.