Two researchers named Shaw scientists

May 24, 2013

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation has chosen two University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers for 2013 Shaw Scientist Awards.

Photo: Randall Goldsmith

Randall Goldsmith

The foundation announced that a panel of prominent scientists from around the country selected Randall Goldsmith, assistant professor of chemistry, and Rupa Sridharan, assistant professor of cell and regenerative biology, for the honor, which supports young scientists engaged in groundbreaking research in the fields of biochemistry, biological sciences and cancer research.

Each Shaw Scientist receives $200,000 in unrestricted research support.

Goldsmith, whose works to immobilize single molecules to study the way they move and change shape, will apply his Shaw award funding to research on a protein called tau.

Healthy tau proteins physically support the cellular wiring that connects neurons in the brain, but the proteins can break apart and tangle. Tangled tau proteins are found in plaques formed in the brains of Alzheimer's disease sufferers.

Photo: Rupa Sridharan

Rupa Sridharan

Sridharan, a researcher at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, examines the ways cells can be reprogrammed to serve different functions. Fewer than one in one thousand of the cells that make up an organism can be successfully induced into pluripotency — the ability stem cells have to become one of many different types of cells.

Sridharan plans to study the barriers to induced pluripotency, hoping to create more of the flexible cells and expand the reach of potential medical treatment applications.

Shaw Scientists were first named in 1982 thanks to a $4.3 million bequest from Dorothy Shaw, widow of James Shaw, a prominent Milwaukee attorney. In addition to $2 million in special grants, Shaw's fund has awarded more than $12 million in grants to 63 scientists from UW-Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is a family of more than 1,000 individual charitable funds, each created to serve specific charitable causes. Begun in 1915, it is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the world.