Rolf Luft Award 2007
Dr. Wylie Vale, Helen McLoraine chair professor of molecular neurobiology at the Salk Institute in the USA, has been selected as the recipient of the Rolf Luft Award 2007.
Dr. Wylie Vale, Helen McLoraine chair professor of molecular neurobiology at the Salk Institute in the USA, has been selected as the recipient of the Rolf Luft Award 2007. Dr. Vale is a leading neuroendocrinologist and has, during a period of 40 years, published almost 800 papers. He was an early collaborator of Dr. Roger Guillemin who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1977, working on the TRH, LHRH and somatostatin neuropeptides.
After establishing his own group, Wylie Vale and colleagues described the isolation and primary structure of CRF in 1981 and proposed that this neuropeptide plays a key role in integrating endocrine, autonomic and behavioral responses. The following year, they codiscovered hypothalamic GHRH. He was a co-author on the fundamental paper on the tissue specific RNA processing underlying the production of a calcitonin gene related peptide from the calcitonin gene. In 1989 he described the structure of the mammalian melanin concentrating hormone and found multiple putative neuropeptides in its precursor.
In the mid 1980’s he became interested in inhibin, the elusive gonadal protein proposed to negatively regulate FSH secretion, and co-discovered activin, the structurally related natural agonist opposed by inhibin. He later defined the autocrine role of activin in promoting FSH production and cloned the Type II activin binding receptor, the first signaling receptor for the TGF-beta superfamily and the first vertebrate receptor serine kinase. He later discovered that betaglycan functions as an inhibin co-receptor by forming a stable inactive complex with inhibin and the Type II activin receptor.
He described CRF binding proteins and cloned the first CRF receptor from a human pituitary tumor. In searching for ligands for a second CRF receptor, in 1995 he discovered mammalian urocortin 1, a counterpart to fish urotensin I, and more recently urocortin 2 and 3, further members of the CRF family preferring the CRF 2 receptor. The generation of CRF receptor 1 and 2 knockout mice provided many interesting results, the former showing anxiolytic behaviour and the latter increased anxiety. Recent studies with mice null for each of the 3 urocortins have revealed additional important roles for these peptides in metabolism, cardiovascular system and central nervous system.
Dr. Vale’s research has led to novel and exciting aspects on the complex mechanisms underlying the central regulation of the endocrine system, in particular the stress axis, providing targets for development of drugs and new diagnostic methods to study the brainendocrine interplay.
The Prize Lecture "The CRF/urocortin network of neuropeptides and receptors: bridging stress and metabolism" was held on September 19, 2007.