Biologist Harry Noller to receive honorary degree

Harry Noller

The University of Geneva in Switzerland will award an honorary doctorate degree to Harry Noller, the Sinsheimer Professor of Molecular Biology at UC Santa Cruz, in a ceremony on October 12, 2012.

Noller did postdoctoral research at the University of Geneva before joining the UCSC faculty in 1968. The "doctorat honoris causa" is the university's highest distinction.

Noller directs the Center for Molecular Biology of RNA at UCSC. His research is concerned with the structure and function of ribosomes, the protein factories of all living cells and an important target for antibiotics. Work in Noller's lab has led to the elucidation of the structure of the complete ribosome, showing its interactions with other molecules and demonstrating that the ribosome is a macromolecular machine whose functional properties are based on RNA rather than protein. He has received many honors in recent years, including a lifetime achievement award from the RNA Society, the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992.

Noller received his A.B. in biochemistry from UC Berkeley and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Oregon. He did postdoctoral research at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where he studied protein chemistry. In 1966, he joined Alfred Tissiere's laboratory in the newly formed Department of Molecular Biology at the University of Geneva, where he was introduced to ribosomes, the study of which has occupied Noller for most of his subsequent career.