A. DALE KAISER, THE JACK, LULU and Sam Willson Professor of Biochemistry, was recently honored by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) with the 1997 Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions in fundamental biomedical research.
"Kaiser has made major lasting contributions to microbiology, not just once or twice but many times," said Noel Rose, chair of the award selection committee. "He did more than anyone else to elucidate the regulation of bacteriophage lambda gene expression. [He also] has made comparably massive contributions to the field of phage morphogenesis, a second field for which he qualifies as a founder.
"Kaiser also qualifies as the parent of recombinant DNA technology," said Rose, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University. "He was the first to introduce naked DNA into E. coli. He was the first to join two DNA molecules together end-to-end in the test tube, establishing the feasibility of constructing recombinant DNA. He also determined the world's first DNA sequence, the cohesive ends of lambda.
"Around 1975, Kaiser began the second phase of his career, which focused on developmental genetics in Myxococcus xanthus," said Rose. "Today, primarily because of Kaiser, Myxococcus has the best-characterized genetics of any of the developmental systems in bacteria, and more is known about cell signaling in this organism than in any other prokaryote."
Kaiser, who has been on the medical school faculty since 1959, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. His many honors include the Thomas Hunt Morgan Award of the Genetics Society of America in 1972, the Lasker Medical Research Award in 1980, and the Waterford Prize for Basic Medical Research in 1981.
Kaiser received the Abbott-ASM award, along with a $20,000 cash prize, at the group's annual meeting, held in early May in Miami Beach.