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W.E. (William Esco) Moerner, Ph. D. – visionary scientist, Nobel Laureate, and 1971 graduate of San Antonio’s Thomas Jefferson High School – to receive BioMed SA’s 10th Annual Julio Palmaz Award for Innovation in Healthcare and the Biosciences
July 31, 2015

SAN ANTONIO, July 31, 2015 -- BioMed SA, the non-profit organization focused on growing and promoting San Antonio's thriving healthcare and bioscience sector, will award its tenth annual Julio Palmaz Award for Innovation in Healthcare and the Biosciences to W.E. (William Esco) Moerner, Ph.D., of Stanford University. The award, named after Palmaz® Stent inventor Julio Palmaz, M.D., honors individuals who have made significant contributions to advance the healthcare and bioscience fields. Dr. Moerner will accept the award at BioMed SA's 10th annual Palmaz Award dinner to be held in San Antonio on Thursday, September 10, 2015, at The Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The 10th annual Palmaz Award coincides with BioMed SA's 10-year history of championing San Antonio as a City of Science and Health. This year's selection of Dr. Moerner as the first Nobel Laureate to receive the Palmaz Award uniquely epitomizes the attributes that define the Palmaz Award, which is given to individuals in the healthcare and bioscience fields who have put novel ideas into action with tangible, transformational results. The award alternates between recipients from San Antonio and those from the national level. Dr. Moerner is the first recipient who is both.

Dr. Moerner serves as the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry and Professor, by courtesy, of Applied Physics at Stanford University in California, where he conducts research in physical chemistry and chemical physics of single molecules, single-molecule biophysics, super-resolution imaging and tracking in cells, and trapping of single molecules in solution.

A 1971 graduate of San Antonio's Thomas Jefferson High School, Dr. Moerner shared in the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his groundbreaking work in super-resolution microscopy and spectroscopy.

Palmaz Committee Chair Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D. of The University of Texas at San Antonio said Dr. Moerner's work has made it possible to visualize the inner workings of cells and observe single molecules at the smallest scales. "It represents a fundamental, transformational change in the field of medical science, opening up new potential for drug discoveries," he said.

Dr. Moerner was nominated for the Palmaz Award by Drs. David Weiss and James Lechleiter of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, which was the first institution in Texas - and the second in the U.S. - to purchase and assemble a STORM microscope derived from Dr. Moerner's Nobel work.

"The selection of a visionary scientist such as Dr. Moerner, who was raised in San Antonio and went on to win the world's most distinguished prize in chemistry, is a testament to what bright young minds here in our region can aspire to and achieve," said BioMed SA Chair Kenneth P. Trevett.

Previous recipients of the Palmaz Award include nationally-renowned pediatric transplant surgeon and former Chancellor of The University of Texas System, Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., of San Antonio (2014); Robert S. Langer, Sc.D., world-renowned engineer, medical inventor and entrepreneur from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (2013); Larry Miller, M.D. of San Antonio, founder & chief medical officer of Vidacare Corporation (2012); Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D, president and co-founder, Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, Washington (2011); C. Mauli Agrawal, Ph.D., dean of engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (2010); internationally acclaimed inventor Dean Kamen of DEKA Research & Development Corp. in New Hampshire (2009); Karen Davis, Ph.D, president of The Commonwealth Fund in New York (2007); and San Antonio pediatric surgeons Drs. Robert Campbell, Melvin Smith (deceased) and Kaye Wilkins from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children's Hospital (2008).

"I am very happy to accept the Julio Palmaz Award," said Dr. Moerner, "as this recognizes the lifelong efforts of me, my collaborators, and my colleagues in the field to study single molecules and to develop useful applications such as super-resolution microscopy."

Dr. Moerner's work represents a breakthrough in making it possible to see molecules at the smallest scales
Dr. Moerner's research interests span methods of precise quantitation of single-molecule properties, to strategies for three-dimensional imaging and tracking of single molecules, to applications of single-molecule measurements to understand biological processes in cells, to observations of the photodynamics of single photosynthetic proteins and enzymes.

He has authored or co-authored 346 publications and holds 12 patents with three applications pending in optics, frequency domain optical storage, single-molecule applications, and photorefractive materials.

Dr. Moerner holds degrees in physics, electrical engineering, and mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He began his career as a scientist in the IBM Research Division in San Jose, California and served on the faculty of the University of California, San Diego before joining Stanford University in 1998.

Dr. Moerner is an elected Fellow/Member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, Optical Society of America, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Major awards include the Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy, the Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics, the Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award, the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, and most recently the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he shared with two other scientists from the U.S. and Germany, as well as the Royal Society of Chemistry Honorary Fellowship Award in 2015.

While at San Antonio's Jefferson High, Dr. Moerner (known as "W.E." to distinguish him from his father, William) played in the band and was active in a number of after-school clubs related to science, languages, radio, speech, debate and writing. He is the second Jefferson graduate to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, following Robert Floyd Curl, Jr., a 1950 graduate who earned the prize in 1996 for helping to discover fullerenes.

San Antonio, the seventh largest city in America, is increasingly recognized as a City of Science and Health as well as the Home of U.S. Military Medicine. Healthcare and bioscience are a dominant force in the city's economy, employing nearly 1 of every 6 members of the San Antonio workforce, with an annual economic impact exceeding $30 billion. The sector combines unique assets, diverse resources, and a tangible spirit of collaboration. Innovations that save lives around the world are being discovered, developed and commercialized in San Antonio.

BioMed SA is a non-profit membership-based organization, supported in part by the City of San Antonio. Its mission is to accelerate growth of San Antonio's biomedical sector, create regional economic benefit, and contribute to the health of San Antonio and beyond by establishing San Antonio as a leader in healthcare and bioscience. For more information, visit


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