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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2016-17 Faculty Research Lecturer Award

Charles Samuel - Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Professor Charles Samuel is the C. A. Storke II Professor and UCSB Distinguished Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. He is an internationally recognized pioneer and leader in the study of antiviral proteins know as interferons, specifically the ways that viruses infect human cells and give rise to disease. Much of this work focuses upon two proteins known as PKR and ADAR1 in which he is the undisputed world’s expert. In this work, Professor Samuel has completely transformed the field’s understanding of interferon action.

As his nominator commented, a scientist can be either a diver or a surfer (an appropriate adage for UCSB). Divers deeply investigate a small area of science. Surfers cover a lot more territory but with much less depth. Professor Samuel is one of the very few scientists who has done both, and with excellence.

His colleagues point out that Professor Samuel is passionately question-driven and employs whatever technical approaches needed to probe deeply into answering these questions. His career and contributions are characterized by insatiable curiosity and uncompromising rigor. Students and postdoctoral scholars have come from far and wide to work with him.

Professor Samuel is an Elected Fellow of the Medical Sciences Section of American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and an Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 29 years straight. He has authored and co-authored over 233 manuscripts in top journals in the field.

In addition to his many research accomplishments, Professor Samuel has given extensive service to UCSB and his research community. He served two terms as Chair of his Department, including when it was formed in the 1990s. He was elected President of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research, was the founding Co-President of the International Cytokine and Interferon Society and received an Honorary Lifetime Membership Award from this same Society. He served 36 terms as editor for major journals in the field, including the very prestigious Journal of Biological Chemistry.

One of Professor Samuel’s colleagues summed it up by saying “I consider Chuck to be a true pillar of basic research who has made a staggering number of important contributions over his 45-year career. To me, Chuck represents the pinnacle of what an academic scientist should be: visionary with relentless pursuit of the truth, but with generosity and a commitment to give back to his discipline and institution through training, teaching, and service. He is a remarkable scientist, a wonderful person and he fully deserves this honor and many more. There is no one in this field that matches the breadth of his contributions.”