The Uta von Schwedler Prize for Retrovirology
A $1200 cash prize in honor of Uta von Schwedler was established in 2012 to be awarded annually with the purpose of honoring
the accomplishments of a distinguished graduate student as he or she
completes a dissertation in retrovirology. The cash prize is awarded directly to the student based upon their scientific accomplishments and promise.
Uta began her career in retrovirology research in Roland Friedrich's laboratory at the University of Giessen,
where she defined a signal sequence in the envelope protein of spleen focus-forming virus and received her Diplome
(Masters) degree in 1987. As a PhD student in Matthias Wabl's laboratory at UCSF (1987-90), she showed that a circular
DNA product is produced during the process of immunoglobulin heavy chain class switching, thereby demonstrating that
the immunoglobulin heavy chain class switch occurs through a DNA looping-out and deletion mechanism
[von Schwedler et al (1990) Nature]
Uta was a postdoctoral fellow of the UC AIDS Foundation in Didier Trono's laboratory at the Salk Institute
(1991-94), where she showed that expression of the HIV-1 Vif protein in virus producing cells overcomes a
subsequent early-stage block in the infection of restricted target cells. [von Schwedler (1993) J Virol.]
She then worked as a senior research associate in Wes Sundquist's laboratory at the University of Utah (1996-2008), where she made a series of important contributions to our understanding of HIV-1 assembly and budding. For example, her paper that mapped the host protein interaction network required for HIV budding was selected by the HIV Vaccine electronic (e) resource (HIVe) as one of the most influential scientific papers published in the first 30 years of HIV research.
In the final three years of her life, she worked with Ila Singh and with Joshua Schiffman at the University of Utah.
Uta was especially fond of the Cold Spring Harbor Meeting on Retroviruses, both owing to her love of science, but also for the friends she connected with year after year. She attended sixteen meetings during her career. She was always active, whether attending meeting lectures, socializing with old and new friends, discussing science at poster sessions, running on the Cold Spring Harbor campus, or swimming in the ocean harbor. Uta also had deep respect and talent for basic research and loved to train and mentor young scientists. She was loved by many within this community, and this prize is meant to remember and honor her professional contributions and to help foster these characteristics in the next generation of retrovirologists.