Stanford biologist receives top U.S. science award

Stanford developmental biologist Lucy Shapiro has been awarded the National Medal of Science, the United States' top science award.

A committee of 12 scientists and engineers appointed by the president of the United States evaluate nominees every year. Dr. Shapiro was recognized for her research, as well as her active involvement in national policy development.

Over the past several years, Shapiro has received an impressive amount of attention for her work on how the genetic circuitry of bacterial cells function and serve to orchestrate mitosis. Her research answers questions about the fundamental basis of stem cell function and the role of diversity in the natural world.

Shapiro's work has led directly to the creation of the systems biology field and has the served as the foundation for the development of novel antibacterial and antifungal drugs.

Shapiro also served in an advisory role in the Clinton administration and in the second Bush administration. She is currently serving as a member of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford.

"As my research progressed, I felt that I was in a position where I could, in fact, influence policy," Shapiro said. "I had done the basic science that would allow me to understand how bacteria work, and I felt the responsibility to educate and inform the public about what I began to perceive as a growing threat. Our legislators and our government leaders have to know what's really going on. So I've kind of been thrust into a position as a spokesperson for these issues."