October 5, 2003
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.-Amy Rosenzweig, a 1988 graduate of Amherst College, has received one of this year's 24 "genius awards" given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, announced this morning. The prestigious $500,000 MacArthur Fellowships are unusual in that they are given to a wide range of artists, writers, scientists, academics and social activists, and that the recipients can do as they please with the grant.
Rosenzweig, a chemist at Northwestern University, is working to reveal the structural mechanisms for the metabolism of metals in living cells. Metals such as copper, iron and zinc play critical roles in much enzyme activity, but can be toxic if they accumulate out of control. Aberrant metal metabolism has been identified as the critical factor in such diseases as Menkes syndrome, Wilson disease and familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and may represent an important element in Alzheimer's and prion diseases.
Originally from Pittsburgh, where she attended The Ellis School, Rosenzweig received a B.A. in chemistry at Amherst College. She went to earn a Ph.D. degree in 1992 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was an NIH Fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She joined Northwestern University in 1997 as professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology with a joint appointment in chemistry.
Patricia O'Hara, The Thalheimer Professor of Chemistry at Amherst, recalls saying of Rosenzweig as a student, "She has the brains and knows how to get things done." Rosenzweig was one of the founders of the women's ice hockey team at Amherst. In 1995, she received the Pryde Award, given to an Amherst alumnus who has distinguished herself in research, and returned to the college to lecture.
Previous Amherst alumni who have received MacArthur grants include biologist Carl Woese '50, historian Theodore Rosengarten '66, activist Roseanne Haggerty '82 and novelist David Foster Wallace '85.