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Biology Sweeps UCSD Alumni Awards

MAY 21, 2009

By Kim McDonald

UCSD's Alumni Association has selected three alumni honorees for this year's annual Awards for Excellence and all three are graduates of the Division of Biological Sciences, a first in the 31-year history of this campus awards event.

The three award winners, who will be honored June 6 at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar for the annual Awards for Excellence, part of the UCSD Alumni Association's inaugural Alumni Weekend, are:

  • Photo of Donald Murphy
    Outstanding Alumnus, Donald W. Murphy, '75. As former deputy director of the National Park Service, he managed 30,000 employees and a budget of more than $2.3 billion. Today, Murphy is the chief executive officer for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, a museum visited by nearly 900,000 people from all 50 states and dozens of nations around the world since it opened in 2004.
  • Photo of Abbie Celniker
    Professional Achievement Award, Abbie Celniker, '80. When she was global head of Novartis Biologics, Celniker built the basic infrastructure for the late-stage discovery and development of protein therapeutics; at Genentech, her group pioneered the use and refinement of many analytical assays currently used to characterize protein biopharmaceuticals. Currently, she is chief executive officer at Taligen Therapeutics.
  • Photo of Gary Curtis
    Distinguished Service Award, Gary Curtis, '69. An entrepreneur and biomedical pioneer, Curtis has launched eight successful biomedical start-up companies. He established one of the first UC San Diego alumni endowed scholarships, in honor of his father, to help students with financial need. The scholarship supports science students with a specific interest in business and demonstrated leadership.

The university said in a news release announcing the awards that this year's confluence of biology alums as award winners "was bound to happen: UC San Diego has been named 'Hottest for Science' by Newsweek, and alumni and faculty have created as least 193 start-up companies including many of San Diego's local biotech businesses."

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