Contact: Alexander Shtifman
Phone: 617-713-8989

Senior Investigator Judy Lieberman is the winner of the 2009 Heath Memorial Award from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The award was announced at the center's Clinical Symposium on Cancer Research, "Non-Coding RNAs in Cancer and Development," held from October 9 - 10, 2009 in Houston, TX.

The Heath Memorial Award honors those who have made outstanding contributions to cancer patient care through the clinical application of basic cancer knowledge. The award is conferred annually by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The late William W. Heath, a former chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents and past American ambassador to Sweden, and his wife, Mavis, established the award in 1965 in memory of Mr. Heath's brothers. The medallion for the Guy H., Dan C., and Gilford G. Heath Memorial Award symbolizes the care and protection of the cancer patient through the services of the physician, supported by research.

Dr. Lieberman is Senior Investigator at the Immune Disease Institute and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She received a Ph.D. in physics from Rockefeller University and worked as a theoretical physicist studying high energy particle physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the Fermilab before enrolling as a medical student in the joint Harvard-MIT Program in Health, Science and Technology. She trained in Internal Medicine and Hematology-Oncology at New England Medical Center and was a postdoctoral fellow with Herman Eisen studying T cell immunology at the Center for Cancer Research at MIT. Dr. Lieberman has been on the faculty of Harvard Medial School since 1995. From 2005-2009, she served as Director of the Division of AIDS at Harvard Medical School. She is a member of the American Association of Physicians and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science in 2008.

The Lieberman laboratory has been in the forefront of harnessing RNA interference for disease prevention and therapy, especially for HIV and cancer. She was the first to show that RNA interference could be used to protect mice from disease. Her group developed novel strategies for delivering small interfering RNAs that are effective in vivo. The lab is also investigating the role of the endogenous microRNA pathway in cellular differentiation, transformation and viral infection. They recently showed that the let-7 microRNA family regulates "stemness" of cancer stem cells and that miR-24 regulates cell cycle progression and the DNA damage response. Her laboratory also studies how cytotoxic T lymphocytes kill viral infected or cancerous target cells and how T cell effector immune responses are regulated in the setting of chronic infections, such as HIV. She has helped develop two candidate HIV vaccines - one based on a detoxified bacterial toxin and another based on an engineered intracellular bacterium.