Skip to main content

2002 Newcomb Cleveland Prize Recipients

2002 Award Recipients

AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize

The 2002 Newcomb Cleveland Prize is awarded to the following authors:

  • Mariana Lagos-Quintana, Reinhard Rauhut, Winfried Lendeckel, and Thomas Tuschl for the report “Identification of Novel Genes Coding for Small Expressed RNAs,” published 26 October 2001; Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
  • Nelson C. Lau, Lee P. Lim, Earl G.Weinstein, and David P. Bartel for the report “An Abundant Class of Tiny RNAs with Probable Regulatory Roles in Caenorhabditis elegans,” published 26 October 2001; Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Rosalind C. Lee and Victor Ambros for the report, “An Extensive Class of Small RNAs inCaenorhabditis elegans,” published 26 October 2001; Dartmouth Medical School

These three papers reveal the completely unexpected and unprecedented abundance of ultra-small RNAs, christened micro-RNAs or “miRNAs.” Two members of the class, lin-4 and let-7, have previously been shown to control gene expression by inhibiting the function of their respective target messenger RNA at the translational level. The new miRNAs, over 50 characterized in C.elegans alone with the prediction that there are several hundred in that organism, are expressed in many different patterns, suggesting they affect gene regulation in a wide variety of developmental and tissue-specific contexts. The implication that the enzyme Dicer is involved in their synthesis from long precursor RNAs links miRNAs with the phenomenon of RNA interference, which is also involved in gene silencing.

These three outstanding contributions have written a new chapter in our understanding of gene control: in the words of one of our evaluators, they constitute arguably the most significant biomedical research papers published in 2001.