Samuel H. Wilson Award for Studies on DNA Repair

Application Deadline: May 29


This award was created in honor of Samuel H. Wilson to provide career advancement opportunities for the next generation of environmental health scientists. Sam was a leader in our field and made substantial contributions to the field of base excision repair (BER). Importantly, he was not only an outstanding scientist, but also a dedicated mentor, and many of his trainees became significant players in the field of DNA repair, studying the impact of DNA repair pathways on environmental health.


The awardee will be invited to give an oral presentation in a Symposium or Platform session during the annual meeting and will be awarded a $500 travel stipend, two days hotel and registration for the meeting.


Applications must be submitted by Junior Investigators (those within 10 years of starting an independent position).

Application Form

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In Memoriam

Sadly, Dr. Samuel H. Wilson passed away peacefully on Friday (April 23, 2021).  Dr. Wilson (Sam, as he preferred to be called) was the head of the DNA Repair and Nucleic Acid Enzymology Group in the Laboratory of Genome Integrity and Structural Biology. He also held a secondary appointment in the Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory at NIEHS.

 Sam received his graduate and postgraduate training in medicine and biochemistry at Harvard Medical School (with Mahlon Hoagland) and at the National Institutes of Health (with Marshall Nirenberg).  He began his career as a Principal Investigator in 1970 at the National Cancer Institute and was named chief of the Nucleic Acid Enzymology Section of the Laboratory of Biochemistry in 1986.  In 1991, Sam founded the Sealy Center for Molecular Science at the University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, TX). The center focused on genetic toxicology, structural biology and functional genomics.  He moved to NIEHS in 1996 to serve as Deputy Director of the NIEHS and of the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and directed his research group in the Laboratory of Structural Biology. He served as acting Director of NIEHS and NTP from 2007 to 2009.  Sam has published extensively, authoring many research and environmental health policy publications, and has been editor of several reference volumes.  Since 2011, he has served as Editor-in-Chief of DNA Repair.

The Wilson laboratory made many scientific contributions over the years toward the understanding of mechanisms of faithful replication and repair of DNA, and how abnormalities in the genome are corrected via the base excision repair (BER) mechanism. His group has utilized a multi-disciplinary approach to analyze these essential biological activities at the molecular, cellular, and higher organism levels.  He was especially proud of his group’s contribution to the detailed analysis of an enzyme (DNA polymerase beta) involved in BER.  His group has led the field in defining the molecular interactions that facilitate substrate choice by DNA polymerases through determining three-dimensional high-resolution crystallographic structures and correlating these with kinetic and biological results.  These studies required a detailed characterization of the mammalian BER pathway, leading his group to the discovery and analyses of alternate BER pathways.

Sam had many honors and accomplishments, but he was especially grateful for his mentoring awards since he recognized the importance of training the next generation of scientists.  He received the 2014 NIEHS Mentor of the Year award and in 2015, the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Mentoring Award.

To learn more about Sam, his research interests and accomplishments, see a recent article in the December 2020 issue of the NIEHS Environmental Factor This article also highlighted a special issue (Tribute to Samuel H. Wilson: Shining Light on Base Excision DNA Repair) in DNA Repair published (September 2020) to recognize his contributions to the field. Also, see the following for an editorial on "The Life and Legacy of Sam Wilson".

Donations to this award are for the travel support of the awardee to give their presentation at the EMGS annual meeting.

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