SF State News {University Communications}

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SF State's Laura Burrus earns prestigious CSU biotechnology honor

CSUPERB recognizes SF State Biology Professor's work researching intercellular signaling pathways


SAN FRANCISCO, January 20, 2009 -- Since coming to San Francisco State University in 1997, Laura Burrus has made a name for herself in biotechnology research, focusing on how intercellular signaling pathways participate in embryonic development as well as cancer. Honored Jan. 16 by her peers, Burrus received the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) 2009 Biotechnology Faculty Research Award.

Burrus studies Wnt signaling pathways in the nervous and musculoskeletal systems of developing chick embryos. The long-term goal is to gain the molecular insights needed to therapeutically manipulate these pathways for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of birth defects, muscular dystrophy and cancer.

Each year the CSUPERB award honors one professor from throughout the 23-campus CSU system for outstanding scientific achievement in molecular life science and biotechnology research. Burrus is the third recipient from SF State in the 18 years of the award.

"From the research perspective, she's productive and has published in the finest journals in the field," said Michael Goldman, chair of the Biology department. "Having a researcher of Laura's caliber in the classroom is an invaluable asset to the biology department and the University."

Burrus has mentored 25 undergraduate and 18 master's students, 16 of whom have come from underrepresented minority backgrounds. Three of her former students have received doctorates, with six more currently enrolled in Ph.D. programs. She has also been instrumental in developing collaborations with laboratories in the Bay Area, across the country and around the world.

After earning her doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1991, Burrus spent five years conducting post-doctoral research in developmental biology at Harvard University. She joined the SF State faculty in 1997 and was named a Professor of Biology in 2005. At SF State, she has received $3 million in research funding, including grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The California State University provides vision, leadership and support for biotechnology education and research in California through CSUPERB. Each year, one researcher from among the 23 California State Universities is honored with the Biotechnology Faculty Research Award and a $1,000 gift. For more information about CSUPERB, visit www.calstate.edu/csuperb/

San Francisco State University's biology department is the largest in the California State University system. SF State ranks second among all U.S. comprehensive universities whose graduates successfully enroll in Ph.D. programs. Graduates from SF State go on to successful careers at internationally recognized biotechnology companies including Genentech, Amgen, Pfizer and Merck.

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