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Waclaw Szybalski Receives Prize from Polish President

Madison, Wisconsin - Dr. Waclaw Szybalski, professor emeritus at UW-Madison's McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, recently traveled to the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, to receive the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (Rebirth of Poland) from Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.


Waclaw SzybalskiThe award, one of Poland's highest honors, was given to recognize Szybalski's "extraordinary and distinguished service."


Originally from Poland, Szybalski joined the McArdle Lab in 1960. His scientific contributions over more than half a century have been far-reaching in their impact on science and technology. 


His early work on the genetics of cultured mammalian cells laid the foundation for other scientists to develop approaches to produce monoclonal antibodies, important tools for both research and disease therapy. Those scientists later won a Nobel Prize for their work.


Szybalski's detailed studies of the regulation of gene expression in the simple bacterial virus lambda have provided important insights into how cells and organisms control their growth and development.


In recent years, he has focused his efforts on the development of new methods to analyze complex genomes, a matter at the heart of the Human Genome Project.


The author of 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers, Szybalski served as the editor of the journal Gene for 20 years. He has mentored more than 60 graduate and postdoctoral students during his career at the School of Medicine and Public Health; some are now professors at leading universities.


Szybalski earned his doctoral degree in microbial biochemistry in 1949 at the Institute of Technology in Gdansk, Poland. Professor emeritus since 2001, he continues to conduct research and publish papers in academic journals. Behind the scenes, he has aided the development of biological science in Eastern Europe during the political upheavals of the last 30 years.


The May 3, 2011, award ceremony was part of the celebrations that take place on the National Day of Poland, which commemorates the adoption of the Polish Constitution on May 3, 1791. It was the first written constitution in Europe and the second in the world following the American Constitution.


The Order of Polonia Restituta can be conferred for outstanding achievements in education, science, sport, culture, art, economics, defense of the country, social work, civil service, or for furthering good relations between countries.

Date Published: 05/31/2011

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Waclaw Szybalski Receives Prize from Polish President

Last updated: 05/31/2011
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