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CSHL’s Dr. Molly Hammell named 2014 Rita Allen Foundation Scholar

Molly Hammell
Molly Hammell

Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Assistant Professor Molly Hammell has been recognized as one of seven 2014 Rita Allen Scholars. The award supports promising early-career investigators, providing up to $110,000 annually for five years. Hammell has been designated the Milton E. Cassel Scholar, the Foundation’s highest honor, which pays tribute to a long-time president of the Rita Allen Foundation.

“The faculty of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory join with me in congratulating Molly Hammell on this prestigious award,” says CSHL Director of Research and Professor David L. Spector. “The generous support of institutions like the Rita Allen Foundation enables young investigators to perform ground-breaking innovative projects that are likely to lead to the next great advances in biomedical research.”

Hammell is exploring the genetic changes underlying neurodegenerative disease. In particular, she is focused on a set of mobile DNA segments, known as transposable elements (TEs). These repetitive stretches of DNA have the ability to copy and insert themselves anywhere within the genome, with the massive potential to cause genetic mutations and irreparable damage to the DNA. Using both computational and experimental techniques, Hammell is exploiting her physics background (having graduated from Dartmouth with a Ph.D. in physics) to understand how TEs cause neurodegenerative disease.

About the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars

Since 1976, the Rita Allen Foundation has funded more than 100 young investigators through its scholars program. Early-career researchers are selected based on their innovation, demonstrated leadership, and collaborations. Scholars have gone on to win some of the most prestigious awards in science, including the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the National Medal of Science, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

Written by: Jaclyn Jansen, Science Writer | | 516-367-8455

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit