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URMC / Biochemistry & Biophysics / Awards / Vincent du Vigneaud Award

Vincent du Vigneaud Award

This award is conferred by the Office of Graduate Education at the School of Medicine and Dentistry to a graduating student from any program whose thesis is judged superior and unique in potential for stimulating and extending research in the field. The award is given in honor of Vincent du Vigneaud, (1901-1978) who received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry (formerly known as Vital Economics) in 1927 at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, studying on the sulfur component of insulin. Dr. du Vigneaud performed postdoctoral research with the famous John Jacob Abel at The Johns Hopkins University Medical School (1927-1928), at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Dresden Germany, working with Max Bergmann, and at the University of Edinburgh Medical School. He returned to the U.S. to take successive positions as Professor at the University of Illinois and then at George Washington University Medical School. In 1932 he became a Professor at the Cornell Medical School, in New York City, where he remained until retiring to emeritus status in 1967. He accepted an invitation from Dr. Harold Scheraga, head of the Chemistry Department at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, to move his laboratory to Ithaca. He continued to do research in the Cornell Chemistry Research Building until suffering a stroke in 1974.

Dr. du Vigneaud’s long career was spent studying the biochemistry of sulfur-containing hormones and hormones of the pituitary gland. He was also interested in intermediary metabolism of amino acids, synthesis of small peptides, and the role of small sulfur-containing compounds, such as cystine, homocystine, and methionine in trans-methylation and sulphuration reactions. Dr. du Vigneaud’s many honors and awards include the Williard Gibbs Award from the American Chemical Society (1955) and the 1955 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the isolation, structural identification, and total synthesis of the cyclic peptide, oxytocin. The American Peptide Society bestows a Vincent du Vigneaud Award annually on worthy protein chemists who are leaders in the field. Dr. du Vignead’s daughter, Dr. Marylin Renée Brown, M.D., Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester, has initiated and supported the University of Rochester’s Vincent du Vigneaud award in memory of her father.

Read Dr. du Vigneaud’s Nobel Lecture.

Read du Vigneaud's National Academy of Sciences Memoir.

Award Recipients

  • 2005 - Prithwish Pal (Biophysics)
  • 2008 - Irina S. Chernyakov (Biochemistry)
  • 2014 - Joseph Liberman (Biophysics)