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Nobel-winning chemist, former San Antonian to receive BioMed SA's Palmaz Award
July 31, 2015

Dr. W.E. Moerner has been selected as BioMed SA's 2015 Palmaz Award winner. COURTESY OF BIOMED SA

By W. Scott Bailey, San Antonio Business Journal

BioMed SA has named W.E. Moerner, a Nobel Prize winner and former San Antonian, to receive its 2015 Palmaz Award for Innovation in Healthcare and the Biosciences.

Moerner, a 1971 graduate of San Antonio's Thomas Jefferson High School, is the 10th winner of BioMedSA's signature award and the first Nobel laureate to claim the honor. He will accept the award at BioMed SA's annual Palmaz Award dinner on Sept. 10 at The Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Moerner is the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford University in California. He shared in the 2014 Nobel Prize for chemistry for his groundbreaking work in super resolution microscopy and spectroscopy.

"I was fortunate enough to be the first person to optically detect a single molecule, along with my postdoc, Lothar Kador, in 1989," Moerner told me when asked what scientific accomplishment he was most proud of. "This opened up a new field of science where individual molecules are probed one at a time."

Moerner said that work has helped revolutionize cell biology with implications for addressing human disease and a better understanding of nanoscale.

BioMed SA Chairman Kenneth Trevett said, in a news release, that Moerner is a "visionary scientist" and a "testament to what bright young minds here in our region can aspire to and achieve."

The University of Texas at San Antonio's Mauli Agrawal, who chairs BioMed SA's Palmaz committee, is equally impressed. He said in the news release that Moerner's work "represents a fundamental, transformational change in the field of medical science, opening up new potential for drug discoveries."

Moerner, who was a summer programmer at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Medicine in the early 1970s, said at one point he considered returning here to continue his work, but he chose to pursue other opportunities. Still, he is amazed by the advances San Antonio has made in health care and bioscience since he left.

"I am impressed by the breadth of the biomedical enterprise and how much it has grown since," Moerner said.



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