Scientist Honored for Gene Editing Discoveries
By Marcia Wood
January 22, 2004
NEW ORLEANS, La., January
22--Pioneering research on how to edit the array of genes in green plants
has garnered a national scientific honor for Albany, Calif., plant molecular
biologist David W. Ow. He's winner of the 2003
Agricultural Research Service Senior
Scientist of the Year award for the research agency's Pacific West Area.
The region encompasses California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada,
Arizona, Idaho, and Alaska.
"Dr. Ow's discoveries have enabled plant breeders worldwide to remove
research-related genes that are necessary in the initial stages of research,
but aren't needed--later on--in the harvested crops," said ARS Acting
Administrator Edward B. Knipling. "Dr. Ow's innovative studies have
contributed significantly to the safety of genetically engineered foods. In
addition, it has helped streamline development of superior plants that yield
higher quality food, feed, or fiber crops."
The honor also acknowledges Ow's investigations of genes that enable plants
to cleanse soil by taking up toxic compounds such as cadmium. Findings from his
studies have helped in the development of new, environmentally friendly
strategies to decontaminate polluted sites.
Ow received a plaque, cash prize, and additional funding for his work today
at an ARS national awards ceremony here.
He has presented results of his research at major national and international
scientific meetings, and has authored or coauthored more than 80 scientific
articles and presentations.
A native of San Francisco, Calif., Ow received his bachelor of arts degree
in genetics from the University of
California, Berkeley, in 1978, and his doctorate in cellular and
developmental biology from Harvard
University, Cambridge, Mass., in 1983.
Ow joined the Agricultural Research Service in 1986 as one of the first
principal investigators of the Plant Gene Expression Center, a joint venture of
ARS and the University of California, Berkeley. The Center is now recognized
internationally as one of the world's premier centers of research on genes that
control the inner workings of green plants.
ARS is celebrating its 50th anniversary as the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal
in-house scientific research agency.