Biologist Melissa Jurica earns prestigious grant from Searle Scholars Program

Biologist Melissa Jurica earns prestigious grant from Searle Scholars Program
Biologist Melissa Jurica earns prestigious grant from Searle Scholars Program
Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Searle Scholars Program has awarded Melissa Jurica a three-year, $240,000 grant to support her research. Jurica, who studies the complex system by which human cells process genetic information, is one of just 15 young scientists awarded the prestigious grants this year.

The Searle Scholars Program makes grants to selected universities and research centers to support the independent research of exceptional young faculty in the biomedical sciences. This is the first year that UCSC has been invited to participate in the program. Jurica, who joined the UCSC faculty in 2003, is the campus's first Searle Scholar.

Jurica's research focuses on a tiny molecular machine known as the spliceosome, which edits the genetic code before the code gets translated into the protein molecules that carry out a vast range of biological functions. "It's like when you shoot a movie and you don't need all the footage, you cut some parts out and splice together the parts you want. That's what the spliceosome does with gene sequences," Jurica said.