The University Record, July 22, 2002

Matthews named Henry Russel Lecturer

By Lesley Harding

Rowena Matthews, the G. Robert Greenberg Distinguished University Professor of Biological Chemistry and senior research scientist in the Biophysics Research Division, has been named the 2003 Henry Russel Lecturer. The Russel Lecturership is one of the highest honors given by the University to a senior faculty member and recognizes an outstanding career in research, teaching and service.

Matthews was nominated for the honor by Jack Dixon, the Minor J. Coon Professor of Biological Chemistry. She will deliver the Russel Lecture on March 11.

Matthews, who joined the U-M in 1974, is internationally recognized for her research on folate coenzymes and their function in metabolism. Her work in mechanistic enzymology bridges basic biochemical research and clinical applications to metabolic diseases in humans. This research is especially important because folate coenzymes play essential roles in normal growth and biological repair and have been implicated as a cause of cancer and heart disease.

Other recent honors for Matthews include the William A. Rose Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Repligen Award from the American Chemical Society, and the Gowland Hopkins Award of the International Symposium on Chemistry and Biology of Pteridines. Early this spring, she was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.

Matthews makes her research accessible to a lay audience on her Web page at the Biophysics Department, saying, “We want to know whether the strategies for catalysis are similar or different.  Does nature have more than one way to skin a cat?  Our preliminary results suggest that the strategies for catalysis are strikingly similar.”

The Russel Lectureship and the annual Russel Award for junior faculty members were established in 1925 with a bequest from Henry Russel of Detroit, who received three degrees from U-M.